Former president Jacob Zuma has to pay back the R15.3 million the state has spent on his legal fees, the North Gauteng High Court has ruled. Picture: Leon Lestrade/ African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Pretoria - Former president Jacob Zuma's legal woes continue to mount as the North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria ordered him to pay millions of rands to the State after he “illegally used” taxpayers' funds to defend corruption and fraud cases against him.

Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba delivered his judgment in less than 10 minutes on Thursday morning, in which he found that the decisions of former president Thabo Mbeki and later the incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa to pay for Zuma’s legal fees were unlawful and illegal.

Judge Ledwaba said Zuma must pay back all the legal fees the State spent on him since his criminal trial began in 2005 and all civil litigations he undertook to ensure that all the charges against him were dropped.

The fees have been estimated at R15.3 million.

Zuma was also ordered to pay back the legal fees the State incurred during a nine-year battle with the DA to force the NPA the reinstate criminal charges against him. In October last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ordered the NPA to reinstate criminal charges against Zuma.

“Zuma must pay back the legal fees State incurred in all the interlocutory application he undertook,” Judge Ledwaba said.

Judge Ledwaba also ordered the State’s Attorney office to do an accounting of all funds the State had incurred and present a report to his office within three months after his ruling.

The application to have Zuma pay back the money was brought by the Democratic Alliance (DA), with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also lodging a complaint. 

Reacting after the outcome, elated DA leader Mmusi Maimane said his party was justified by the decision of Ramaphosa to fund Zuma’s legal fees was illegal.

“South African cannot be paying for the legal fees of Jacob Zuma,” Maimane said.

Zuma was also ordered to pay for the legal costs of the DA and EFF.

Last month, both parties slammed Ramaphosa for his decision to fund the legal fees. Due to the mounting pressure on him, Ramaphosa relented and said he would accept the decision of the high court.

IOL