Pietermaritzburg - Jacob Zuma’s defence on Monday slammed the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for exercising “mob justice” as it pursued a criminal case against the former president.
Appearing before a full bench of the Pietermaritzburg High Court, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane said that there were two philosophies at play in the graft case against Zuma, one entailed mob justice and the other was based on a presumption of innocence.
The senior counsel was delivering his opening remarks as he started making a case for a permanent stay of prosecution against Zuma. The former president was seated with his legal team.
Zuma, accused one, 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.
Thales, a French multinational company, is jointly charged with Zuma and is accused two in the matter
Zuma’s co-accused, international arms company Thales, is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption and one count of money laundering.
The case relates to the country’s contentious “arms deal”, which started in 1999, for which Thales secured a multi-billion rand contract to supply combat systems to the navy.
Sikhakhane said the case was about an intersection of law and politics and that the state had displayed "bias" in pursuing Zuma.
“The question is, when it comes to Mr. Zuma (or any other accused), should they be dealt with outside the four corners of the Constitution because they have been accused?”
Sikhakhane said he was “probably the only one” who had asked Zuma if he was innocent. “As we sit in the coffee banks of Rosebank and the leafy suburban suburbs, we have not paused and asked what he did,” said Sikhakhane. “I asked this question of Mr. Zuma so I could clear my conscience and represent him.”
The last question to be asked, he said, was if Zuma should be “stripped of human dignity because he is Mr. Zuma”.
The prosecution had been “overzealous” in trying to convict Zuma since the case started over a decade ago, said Sikhakhane.
He said the defence team did not take the application for a permanent stay of prosecution lightly as it was a “difficult remedy”.
African News Agency/ANA