Zuma's legal team confident ahead of the start of his corruption trial next week
With former president Jacob Zuma scheduled to return to the Pietermaritzburg High Court for his corruption trial next week, his legal team has indicated he was confident about proving his innocence.
This comes after Zuma this week abandoned his attempt to halt his prosecution in relation to the arms deal saga, which his lawyers had been unsuccessfully seeking a permanent stay of prosecution.
In March, the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed Zuma’s application for the permanent stay with costs without hearing the arguments of his legal team, pointing out that there were no reasonable prospects of success, forcing him to launch another bid with the Constitutional Court.
On Wednesday, the Jacob Zuma Foundation announced he had withdrawn his leave to appeal with the Constitutional Court and had instead decided to prepare for the trial.
Zuma’s lawyer, Eric Mabuza, said Zuma had resolved to put the matter to rest by demonstrating his innocence to South Africans by subjecting himself to a trial.
“The former president wants to prove his innocence in the trial. He wants to remove all obstacles to stand in the way of the trial so that he can go and face his accusers and for the whole of SA to know that he was not involved in the arms deal corruption,” Mabuza said.
When asked if he had advised Zuma against continuing with the appeal, Mabuza – who has recently been hired after Zuma dropped his former lawyer, Daniel Mantsha – insisted that he could not reveal his advice to Zuma.
“No not at all, but even if it was, I would not even be able to tell you that. I can’t tell you what happens behind closed doors. We must accept his statement that he now wants to focus on the trial,” Mabuza said.
In the statement, the foundation said: “I hope that our citizens will finally get some certainty and closure as to the real beneficiaries of the arms deal, if any corruption in that regard did occur.”
Zuma’s case, which has been raging for more than a decade, was brought back before the courts after the DA finally won its battle to have the 16 charges on more than 700 counts of corruption, money laundering and racketeering reinstated.
While it remained unclear if Zuma’s case would be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, he is expected back in court on Wednesday.
The foundation has not given reasons on why Mantsha had been replaced by Mabuza, except to indicate that it was done in Zuma’s best interest, “so that he can focus more on the preparation for the trial”.