Tuesday’s morning decision by Pietermaritzburg High Court judge Dhaya Pillay to issue a conditional warrant of arrest against former President Jacob Zuma was surprising to some and welcomed by others.  Picture: Michele Spatari/Pool via AP, File
Tuesday’s morning decision by Pietermaritzburg High Court judge Dhaya Pillay to issue a conditional warrant of arrest against former President Jacob Zuma was surprising to some and welcomed by others. Picture: Michele Spatari/Pool via AP, File

Jacob Zuma is a survivor, but can he beat the Arms Deal charges?

By SIHLE MAVUSO Time of article published Feb 5, 2020

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Durban - Tuesday’s morning decision by Pietermaritzburg High Court judge Dhaya Pillay to issue a conditional warrant of arrest against former President Jacob Zuma caught many South Africans off guard. 

However, for the man from Nkandla who is both loved and loathed - depending on who you ask - the warrant was just another brush with the law. Even his critics have repeatedly acknowledged his ability to weather some of the biggest legal storms. 

We look at some of Zuma's most notable brushes with the law:

2005 corruption charges 

Late in June 2005, shortly after he was fired by the then president Thabo Mbeki, Zuma was hurriedly charged by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). However, a legal loophole was used by his lawyers to set him free when the NPA kept on asking for postponements citing the need to have more time to gather evidence. 

Zuma then escaped in September 2006 thanks to late Pietermaritzburg Judge Herbet Msimang who ruled in his favour and threw out the charges. 

Khwezi rape trial 

In December 2005, just when Zuma supporters geared for a battle with the NPA and the now defunct Scorpions, a new scandal broke. Zuma was accused of raping a daughter of a friend at a house in Johannesburg. This case opened a new legal front against him. 

Zuma survived that one too when a judge ruled in May 2006 that the sex was consensual.  Zuma walked free and continued with his fight to topple Mbeki as party president the following year in Polokwane. However, the case has been constantly used against him, with some of his critics saying he is too tainted by it to be a leader. 

Arms deal corruption case

Days after wresting control of the ANC machinery from Thabo Mbeki at Polokwane in December, Zuma’s joy was short-lived when the NPA charged him again in December 2007. 

With the help of his party that formed a committee and devised strategies to get him off the hook, Zuma would once again escape the jaws of the law two years later. That was in April 2009 when former acting director of public prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe, withdrew the charges saying the case had been contaminated by politics. However, the charges were reinstated in April 2018, just a few weeks after he was recalled from office by the ANC. 

Thuli Madonsela's Nkandla report

In March 2014, former Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela delivered a blow to Zuma when she ruled that he must pay back a portion of money used by the state for security upgrades at his Nkandla home. 

Zuma first dug in until the matter went to the Constitutional Court which ruled in March 2016 that findings of the Public Protector are binding. He was eventually forced to cough slightly above R7 million which he borrowed from VBS. 

The Concourt ruling paved the way for calls for impeachment. However, Zuma being a survivor, scraped through when ANC MPs shielded him to shoot down several motions of no confidence. 

Civil cases

After being ejected out of the state office, Zuma has also faced, survived and is still fighting some civil cases. One prominent case was when he was sued for R500 000 by his former Tourism minister who succesfully contested that by calling him a “known enemy agent”, Zuma was saying he was an apartheid spy. The matter is still in court with Zuma appealing the ruling while Hanekom hopes that the challenges falls through so that the court can determine the amount due to him as compensation.  

All said and done, the question still lingers, will Zuma laugh this one through or is it the beginning of the end for the man from Nkandla? Only time will tell.

Political Bureau

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