Former President Jacob Zuma appeared in Pietermaritzburg High court. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - Despite telling the Pietermaritzburg High Court almost two weeks ago that it is finally ready to prosecute former president Jacob Zuma, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is mum on the number of witnesses it has lined up for the case.

Appearing for the state, Advocate Billy Downer SC (Senior Counsel) told the court that they were ready to proceed with the case but they have to wait for Zuma’s appeal after a failed permanent stay of prosecution.

When asked by Independent Media on Tuesday how many witnesses they will rely on in order to nail Zuma, spokesperson for the NPA in KZN Natasha Kara responded vaguely and avoided the questions altogether.

“You are encouraged to follow the proceedings in court,” said Kara. 

Kara was also asked, considering the threat the witnesses are facing due to involvement in the high-profile case, how many of them have been placed under witness protection but she did not address the question. 

In court, the state said it was ready for the trial. Zuma's legal team told the court it was ready and it was pleased that the state was finally ready after years of delays.

Zuma, who faces charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering, was first charged in 2005. That was immediately after the conviction of his former financial advisor Schabir Shaik who was fingered as the man behind facilitating Zuma’s bribes from French arms firm, Thales. Thales was one of the major beneficiaries of the R30 billion Arms Deal of 1999.   

As part of Zuma’s bid to overturn the October 11 ruling which said he must face the rap for the alleged corruption, he would have to file his court papers by November 1 this year and the arguments for the appeal would be heard on November 22. 

The state has set February 4, 2020 as the holding date for the trial, which means that should Zuma’s appeal falls away, the case would be heard on that day. 

Political Bureau