The corruption trial of former president Jacob Zuma returned to Pietermaritzburg High Court today, however it was adjourned to August. This trial has faced a number of lengthy adjournments since the corruption charges linked to an arms deal were reinstated in February 2018, soon after Zuma was recalled as president of the country.
1. Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen on Tuesday postponed the corruption case against former president Jacob Zuma to a holding date of August 1, to establish if the former statesman’s various appeals have been dealt with. If his appeals have been resolved, then Zuma's trial will go ahead on August 15.
2. Zuma wants National Prosecuting Authority’s advocate Billy Downer SC recused from his matter. He accused the senior advocate of unethical conduct, including leaking sensitive information about the case to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spies and selected South African journalists.
3. After Zuma’s attempt to remove Downer failed at the Pietermaritzburg High Court, he approached Justice Mandisa Maya at the Supreme Court of Appeal to relook at the case. However, it has emerged that his appeal application is “still on its way” and has not reached Justice Maya as yet.
4. Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen believes that the Superior Courts Act provision does not give him the discretion to continue with Zuma’s trial while he is in the midst of appealing, hence the matter has to be adjourned until the Justice Maya responds.
5. Zuma is facing a long list of corruption, money laundering and racketeering charges, emanating from the arms deal of the late 1990s. The State alleges that Zuma pocketed bribes from Schabir Shaik, his former financial adviser, to shield Thales (co-accused in the case), a French arms company that was awarded some of the tenders. In May last year, Zuma pleaded not guilty to the 18 charges that had been laid against him by the State.