Former South African President Jacob Zuma appears in court during his ongoing corruption case held at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg. File picture: ROGAN WARD/EPA-EFE.

PRETORIA - Opposition parties on Thursday welcomed Thursday's judgment by the North Gauteng High Court to hold former President Jacob Zuma liable for his legal fees. 

Earlier, Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba said the State should not be held liable for Zuma's fees, both in criminal and civil matters. 

Judge Ledwaba said Zuma must pay back all the legal fees the State spent on him since his criminal trial began in 2005 and all civil litigations he undertook to ensure that all the charges against him were dropped.

The fees have been estimated at R15.3 million.

Zuma was also ordered to pay back the legal fees the State incurred during a nine-year battle with the DA to force the NPA the reinstate criminal charges against him. In October last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ordered the NPA to reinstate criminal charges against Zuma.

The EFF in a statement said Thursday's judgment was a "milestone in a greater and broader effort to save taxpayers from politicians who occupy public office and use state resources to fight legal battles for engaging in questionable conduct for private personal gain".

"We welcome the judgment, hoping that many in the public office will learn that the State is not obliged to pay their legal costs as long as the legal troubles they face have nothing to do with public interests," spokesperson Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.

Adding to this was DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who also welcomed the ruling as a great victory for accountability.

Maimane also said the court ruling called a halt to a system of corruption where those who loot from the state and defend themselves using public money. 

"This case sets an important precedent, and we will take this fight further to those people complicit in state capture."

"The DA has always maintained it was wrong of president Mbeki to decide that the public should pay for Zuma’s defence, and we argued that President Cyril Ramaphosa should have cancelled this illegal deal immediately," said Maimane in a statement. 

"Sadly Ramaphosa chose to help Jacob Zuma instead of standing up for accountability for corruption. We are thrilled that our court action has been successful," said Maimane. 

The Presidency meanwhile, in a statement said it noted the high court's decision. 

"The Presidency will abide by the court’s decision, in line with a notice to this effect filed with the court in May 2018," it said in a statement.

Additional reporting by African News Agency (ANA)