State insists Zuma must be fined despite apology from his legal team
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has on Friday called on the full bench of the Pietermaritzburg High Court not to forgive former president Jacob Zuma willy-nilly for allegedly insulting the judges in his notice to appeal their ruling against him.
State prosecutor Advocate Andrew Breitenbach said the court must fine Zuma for his insulting utterances against the judicial officers.
This was despite Zuma’s lawyer Advocate Daniel Mantsha having expressed apology to judges Bhekisisa Mnguni, Thoba Poyo-Dlwati and Esther Steyn.
In court papers filed earlier this month, Zuma’s legal team had accused the court of having violated some sections of the Criminal Procedure Act, the accusation which Breitenbach described as an insult against the court.
The accusation was on page 10 of Zuma’s court papers, which he filed earlier this month as a notice to appeal last month’s ruling against his application for permanent stay of prosecution for the arms deal related fraud and corruption charges.
In the responding papers, which the state had filed on Monday, Breitenbach had called on the court to reprimand Zuma by fining him R400 000 for his remarks.
Apologising to the judges before the commencement of the day-long hearings, Mantsha said: “The two paragraphs (on the notice of application) are not intended anything untoward against the court.
“We profusely apologise, there was no insult intended”.
However, unforgiving Breitenbach told the judges that the apology alone was not enough without judges taking action against Zuma.
He said they should take a decision on how to deal with the allegations Zuma made against the court.
“The court may accept the apology and leave it like that, [or] the court may make a remark in its judgment.
“We most respectfully submit that the apology alone is not sufficient having regard to what he said,” he said.
Breitenbach reminded the court that it was not the first time Zuma had made insulting allegations in papers.
“In 2009 the SCA (Supreme Court of Appeal) struck up with a punitive cost order certain allegation he had made.
“This court ultimately by agreement may struct up scandalous and vexatious matter from his replying affidavit in this matter,” he said.
He then referred to a 2011 case where it was ruled that punitive cost “may be made against litigants who make unwarranted attacks on officers of the court and judicial officers”.
“We submit that in all the circumstances in this matter it would not be out of place if this court were to order Mr Zuma to pay the cost of his application on the attorney/client scale as a mark of its displeasure,” Breitenbach told the court.
The Independent Media had early this week reported that in the court papers, Zuma had claimed 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, which he said was the violation of some sections of the Criminal Procedure Act.
When journalists asked Zuma’s attorney Muzi Sikhakhane to react to what Breitenbach had told the court, he said he was exhausted to comment.
“They were not talking to us, they were talking to the court and the court did not answer them, so I have nothing more to say,” he said.