Former President Jacob Zuma. File picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA).

PIETERMARITZBURG – Former president Jacob Zuma’s legal team has not met the required standards that would allow him to be granted leave to appeal the dismissal of a permanent stay of prosecution in his graft case, the State has said.

Advocate Andrew Breitenbach was opposing the applications for leave to appeal the dismissals being made by French arms manufacturer Thales and Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday.

Breitenbach told judges Jerome Mnguni, Esther Steyn and Thoba Poyo-Dlwati that the former president’s legal team had not shown with any “rational basis” why Zuma’s application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) had met “the very high standard for an application for a stay of prosecution based on prejudice that isn't trial related".

Zuma’s application for leave to appeal was “hopeless”, said Breitenbach.

Mnguni, Steyn and Poyo-Dlwati denied the applications for permanent stays made by Zuma and Thales in October.

Zuma is accused number one in the case, which relates to the multi-billion rand arms deal of the 1990s.

He 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, in exchange for providing the arms manufacturer with “political protection” from a probe into the deal, in which Thales scored billion rand contract. 

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

Shaik was tried and sentenced to 15 years for fraud in 2005 but was released on medical parole in 2009. 

Breitenbach said it was time for Zuma to have his day in court, as an appeal court would not reach a different opinion to the high court.

The state has accused Zuma of using delay tactics – known as the Stalingrad defence – to avoid trial. But the former president’s lawyers have countered this, saying it has in fact been the National Prosecuting Authority that has scuppered their client’s right to a swift trial through, among other things, political interference. 

Acting for Zuma, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane told the court earlier that the October decision to deny Zuma a permanent stay was an error on the part of the judges, and that a different court could very well come to a different conclusion than they had.

Sikhakhane said the successful prosecution of Zuma's former advisor Schabir Shaik had been used by the state as a “dry run”, with the ultimate aim being to prosecute Zuma, which Breitenbach later called a “conspiracy theory”.

A ruling will be handed down on November 29.

African News Agency (ANA)