Politics / 21 May 2019, 07:37am / SIHLE MAVUSO AND KAILENE PILLAY
Pietermaritzburg - Former president Jacob Zuma claims that his lawyers have tabled new evidence before the Pietermaritzburg High Court, and they hope it will help to bolster the case when the three judges hearing the matter decide on it soon.
This was after intense legal arguments in court on day one of his bid to have his long-standing corruption charges struck off the roll.
He did not specify which new evidence was brought before the court.
Zuma on Monday said his “sharp legal team” were arguing that his rights had been violated for a long time and the case “is no longer fresh”. He even claimed that some of the witnesses had forgotten their evidence, while some judges had retired.
“All the things are not right with the case, and Zuma, the person who is being charged, had his rights undermined in a big way.
"We have evidence of that, and because we are not crazy, we have not previously released or spoken about that information in public,” he claimed.
Detailing his argument to his supporters, Zuma said more than five judges had heard his matter and all agreed he had no case to answer, but the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) kept on bringing the matter back as they didn’t want to see him a free man.
“I think over five judges have ruled on my case but those who are accusing me (NPA) don’t want to see me go free. Judges would say Zuma has no case, then they say let us arrest him again and they will say I have no case to answer and they say let us charge him again,” Zuma told supporters.
Using the platform to speak about the ANC’s performance at the polls on May 8, he said that if he had started his campaigning earlier, some of the lost seats would have not been lost.
The former president took a swipe at members of the ANC who were managed by other members, saying they followed their handlers even when they were taking a wrong direction.
“I regretted starting my campaign for the ANC late, and if I had started earlier we would have not lost even a single vote. But don’t worry, we will regain all these lost seats,” he said.
Zuma’s legal team argued in court that political interference played a role in the charges brought against him. Zuma’s advocate Muzi Sikhakhane read transcripts from the so-called spy tapes into the court record yesterday.
These were the recordings of phone conversations between then national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka and former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy speaking about Zuma - and the NPA - in unflattering terms in 2007.
Their opinions about a selection of retired judges was read into the record in support of Zuma's argument that his rights had been violated and he was being treated unfairly by the NPA.
Sikhakhane argued that the recordings showed that law enforcement agencies were insistent that Zuma must face the full might of the law for his role in the Thales arms deal.
His argument that Zuma was unlikely to get a fair trial was based on the delays of the trial, pre-trial irregularities, political interference, and forensic prejudice, which included memory loss and prosecutorial misconduct.
In arguing for a permanent stay of prosecution, Sikhakhane said the violation of Zuma’s rights constituted exceptional circumstances that should allow him a stay out of prosecution.
“I am not desperate to win this case but I am desperate to know whether the court believes that a person’s rights being violated is exceptional circumstances,” Sikhakhane said.
He added that Zuma’s name had become synonymous with corruption, and the court had a responsibility to lift some of the stigma attached to the family man.
“I invite the court to look at an organ of state acting unconstitutionally, look at the social stigma attached to him and see if we would like it upon ourselves,” he said.
Sikhakhane said the State’s approach was one of mob justice as it continued to pursue Zuma even though it was done in an unconstitutional manner. He described the NPA’s approach to prosecuting Zuma as: “We think you’re guilty so we will deal with you any way we want.”
Zuma is facing 16 charges that include fraud corruption and racketeering. The charges relate to 783 payments that he allegedly received as a bribe to protect Thales from an investigation into the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal.
The alleged bribe was facilitated by Zuma's former financial adviser Schabir Shaik.