Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - The battle between Jacob Zuma, and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is getting nastier with the latter accusing the former state president of disrespecting judges in his court papers.

They want him to be financially penalised for the language used.

The special request that could cost Zuma up to R400 000, is contained in replying papers filed by the NPA in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday and ahead of the hearing of the application on Friday. 

Zuma wants the court to grant him leave to appeal an October 11, 2019 judgment by a full bench of the court which ruled that he must be prosecuted for corruption, fraud and money laundering charges emanating from the R30 billion arms deal of 1999. 

It is alleged that out of the deal he received bribes from French arms firm Thales and they were channelled through Schabir Shaik.  

In the papers, the NPA is scathing on Zuma and his lawyers and accused them of wrongly assuming that the trial has already started when that is not the case. 

This was in response to Zuma's contention that by allocating a full bench to hear his dismissed application for a permanent stay of prosecution, the matter was swiftly changed from being a criminal trial into a civil trial. 

He argued that by so doing, the court violated some sections of the Criminal Procedure Act.  

“The full bench of the high court has no jurisdiction to conduct a criminal trial including interlocutory application brought before a criminal court to determine whether there is a legal or factual basis on which the prosecution of the accused before that criminal court should be permanently stayed. 

"As such the hearing of this criminal trial in the civil court constitutes an irregularity,” Zuma said in the court papers filed on November 1 this year and which irked the NPA.  

Hitting back, the NPA said it was not the first time Zuma and his lawyers raised the issue of the full bench and when it was explained to them during May 7 and 13, 2019 meetings with Deputy Judge Jerome Mnguni, that there was nothing sinister about. 

It said they backed off only to raise the matter of a full bench once more in their notice to appeal court papers. 

"Mr (Dan) Mantsha (Zuma's lawyer) did not subsequently persist with this complaint and thereafter, Mr Zuma participated in the hearing before the full bench from 20 t0 24 May 2019 without demur… The objection is based on the incorrect premise that Mr Zuma’s trial has started. It has not. It will only start when he is called upon to plead and when he does so. His and his co-accused appearance in the (Durban) High Court last year were pre-trial appearances,” the NPA further argues in the papers.  

And for this argument, the NPA then asked for Zuma to be heavily penalised.

“Zuma’s notice of application for leave to appeal is regrettably marred by disrespectful and intemperate language and allegations directed at the Full Bench which do not belong in a proper court process. We respectfully submit that, as a mark of its displeasure, this Court should order Mr Zuma to pay the costs of this application on the attorney-and-client scale, regardless of the outcome,” the NPA pleads in the papers. 

Throughout its submission, the NPA insists that there are no prospects for Zuma’s appeal to succeed in a higher court. 

In the main, Zuma, in his papers, argued that the full bench ignored binding findings by the late Judge Herbet Msimang in 2006 that the NPA admitted that its conduct had prejudiced him. In that ruling, Msimang struck Zuma’s case off the court roll.

He also said the full bench disregarded “incontrovertible evidence of political interference” as outlined in the 2009 ruling handed down by Judge Chris Nicholson. However, the Nicholson ruling was later overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Political Bureau