Jacob Zuma takes on NPA, demands speedy trial
Durban – Former president Jacob Zuma has filed a nine-page response to the State’s application to have his case postponed to 2021. The response to the application was filed on Friday.
Zuma and his co-accused French arms company Thales are expected in court on Tuesday in connection with fraud, racketeering and money laundering charges stemming from an arms deal negotiated by the South African government in the late 1990s.
With the help of his lawyers, Advocate Eric Mabuza and Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane SC, Zuma opens his argument by saying it appears to him that the NPA has backtracked on having parties not appear before the court as the country is currently under lockdown.
He argues that the State later reverted to its earlier position and insisted on a physical appearance in court.
“The State sought to compel Mr Zuma to agree with its position, and when it failed, it insisted on this court appearance. It was proposed to the State that the next holding date should be in August 2020, at which point the State will indicate its readiness or otherwise or shall have filed a substantive application for a postponement.
“However, the State insists on the holding date being in October 2020, thus granting itself the postponement without the requisite substantive application. The State, in insisting that the next court appearance/holding date be on 13 October 2020, will effectively and without an application for postponement nullify Mr Zuma’s recorded position that the trial must commence in October 2020. Mr Zuma cannot accept this as it violates his right to a speedy trial,” reads the response to the State’s application.
Zuma argues that at the advanced age of 78, time is not on his side and the case must be heard this year as he has a right to a speedy trial.
Furthermore, Zuma’s lawyers argued that the State application was “defective” as it was not accompanied by an affidavit written under oath. They argued that by so doing, the State was trying to cover up its failures.
“This ‘application’ by the State is irregular in that it is not accompanied by an affidavit as is required in terms of Rule 6(1) of the Uniform Rules of Court. Accordingly, the application is defective and ought to be disregarded. The State seeks to obtain a long postponement without setting out the reasons on oath. It is also designed to disguise the State’s previous statements in court that it has always been ready for this trial.
“Through the notice, it filed with this Honourable Court, the State seeks to disregard Mr Zuma’s objection to the postponement of the matter to 2021. This constitutes an attempt to disguise its own unpreparedness, contrary to its public statements in the past and in open court,” the lawyers argued.
The NPA was on Sunday yet to respond to queries about the application and its readiness to proceed with the trial.
Nathi Mncube, the spokesperson of the Office of the Chief Justice said: “It will be conduct unbecoming of a Judge to engage with litigants through the media.”IOL