Former president Jacob Zuma at the Pietermaritzburg High Court in November last year. File photo by Leon Lestrade/ African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed on Friday night that there was a "delay" in finalising the state's answering papers in the stay of prosecution applications brought by former president Jacob Zuma and arms company Thales. 

Zuma, accused number one, is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud for allegedly receiving bribe money from Thales via his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik. The case relates to the country’s contentious arms deal, in which Thales secured a multi-billion rand contract to supply combat systems for the South African navy.

Thales, accused number two, is facing one count of racketeering; two counts of corruption and one count of money laundering.

In a statement emailed just before 10pm on Friday night, NPA KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson, Natasha Kara, said: "On 21 February 2019 the State Attorney, representing the NPA, wrote to the attorneys for Mr Zuma and Thales requesting their consent to an extension of the date for filing to Monday 11 March, due, inter alia, to the voluminous nature of the papers filed by Mr Zuma’s legal team."

Kara said the request was made on the basis that it would be "agreeable" that the dates for the filing of their client’s replying papers and heads of argument be extended to 12 April and 30 April 2019 respectively.

The dates for the filing of the state's heads (10 May 2019) and the hearing (20 to 23 May 2019) remained unchanged, she said. 

"The NPA will be delivering its affidavits by Monday, 11 March. The State Attorney will also deliver a formal application for condonation of the late delivery of the answering papers and for the extension of the dates of the filing of Mr Zuma’s and Thales’ replying papers and heads of argument set out in the State Attorney’s letter of 21 February," said Kara. 

At the former president's last appearance in November last year at the Pietermaritzburg High Court, the state said it would deliver its answering papers by March 1. Zuma and Thales would have to deliver their replying papers by April 1 and their heads of argument by April 18. 

In Zuma’s affidavit filed in November, he said his prosecution had “all the attributes of a case that should be stayed permanently”.

“The delays have been extremely long, the pre-trial irregularities glaring, the prejudice to me is blatant, there are no victims or complainants and the political interference in the prosecution passes as other circumstances or factors the court should take into account,” said the affidavit. 

In the affidavit submitted by Thales, company lawyer Christine Guerrier said the decision to reinstate the charges against the company was “unlawful” and that Thales “rights to a fair trial have been violated”. 

The company cited the long delay as an overriding factor and that the “employees involved in the events underpinning the charges are not available to provide [the company] with instructions…to assist [Thales] in presenting its defence at trial”.

African News Agency (ANA)