Another legal setback for Jacob Zuma as SCA dismisses appeal over state funding in corruption trial
Durban - The legal woes of former president Jacob Zuma have increased after he lost an appeal to set aside a North Gauteng High Court ruling that stripped him of state funding for his upcoming corruption trial that emanates from the arms deal of the late 1990s.
In a ruling sent out electronically to all parties involved on Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled that Zuma should pay back the R15.3 million the state used on him to fight off his corruption trial, which returns to court in May.
“In the result, the appeal must fail and it is accordingly dismissed with costs, including those of two counsel, to be paid on the attorney and client scale,” ruled the judgment signed off by Judge VM Ponnan.
The legal battle over the funding started in early 2018 when the DA and later the EFF wanted President Cyril Ramaphosa to stop funding the Zuma trial, as they argued it was unlawful.
The funding was approved by the Thabo Mbeki government in 2006 on the advice that Zuma’s offences allegedly happened while he was in office and he was entitled to state assistance. However, the agreement sanctioned by the State Attorney was that if he lost, he would have to refund the state.
Handing down the judgment, the SCA sitting in Bloemfontein also hit Zuma with legal costs for using remarks that are deemed to be offensive against the court and its judges. Zuma claimed, without producing evidence, that the judges were biased against him.
“There is nothing on the record to sustain the inference that the presiding judges in this matter (or at a more generalised level in other matters involving Mr Zuma) were biased, or that they were not open-minded, impartial or fair. The allegations were made with a reckless disregard for the truth and persisted in during argument. They ought not to have been made at all. But, having been made, they ought, in response to the invitation from the EFF, to have been retracted.
“To have persisted in the unjustified criticism of not just the high court, but more generally, the judiciary is plainly deserving of censure. Little wonder then that the EFF submits that Mr Zuma should be penalised with a punitive costs order as a mark of this court’s displeasure and to vindicate the integrity of the high court and the judiciary. A submission, for the reasons given, with which I am in agreement,” reads part of the 28-page ruling.
It was not immediately clear whether Zuma would take the matter to the Constitutional Court or he would simply give up the fight, as he is on record saying he no longer trusts the country’s judiciary.