Former president Jacob Zuma ​Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives​
Durban - Former President Jacob Zuma returns to the High Court today - this time with a newer and bigger legal team to fight his corruption, money laundering and racketeering charges that were served on him about a decade ago.

By late Thursday afternoon, his new attorney - Daniel Mantsha - could not be reached for comment.

Zuma fired his long-time attorney and friend, Michael Hulley, and advocate Kemp J Kemp, and replaced them with the former Denel chair Mantsha, an alleged associate of the Gupta family.

Mantsha’s name appeared in a host of leaked Gupta e-mails last year, which showed him liaising with the Guptas when taking certain decisions at Denel. According to the leaked Gupta e-mails, it was found that Mantsha also sent his personal bills to the Guptas. However, it was never found if the family paid them.

It is understood from a short discussion with a receptionist at Mantsha’s law firm, who refused to divulge her name, it is expected that four senior advocates and one junior counsel will appear for Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg High Court today .

Media reports revealed that his new team includes Michael Hellens and Dawie Joubert - two senior counsel who are acting for Zuma’s son Duduzane and the Gupta family in state capture criminal cases. Others on his legal team are Thabani Masuku, Muzi Sikhakhane and Sikhakhane’s son Mpilo, a junior counsel.

According to media reports, Hellens reportedly confirmed the names of the new legal team but declined to say how they were being funded.

In March, Zuma pleaded poverty when his lawyer at the time, Hulley, told the court that without state funding, the former president would not have the means to defend himself in court.

The hiring of a new legal team will have a hefty price tag attached, as a source revealed that Mantsha will receive close to R300000 a day in Zuma’s court battle.

Zuma is still in the midst of a fight trying to establish who will foot his bill - taxpayers or himself?

The DA and EFF have lodged court applications asking that the state stop funding Zuma - a task it has undertaken since 2006.

Zuma earlier agreed with the presidency that the state should continue to fund his defence, but if found guilty he would pay back the money.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and the justice department are not opposing the DA and EFF applications, saying they will abide by whatever decision the court reaches.

Zuma missed a July 18 court deadline to explain why he believes the state should continue funding his defence. Meanwhile, Pietermatitzburg’s Freedom Square was alive last night with activity as Zuma’s supporters gathered for a night vigil.

People said they supported Zuma, as he had opened doors for proper treatment of HIV/Aids.

“Zuma took over as president and released ARVs, and today we are healthy. He built us better and stronger low-cost houses and these are the reasons we are here to support him,” said Neli Thusini.

Another supporter, Siyabonga Ngqulunga said he developed a greater appreciation for Zuma after reading Gayton McKenzie’s book Kill Zuma By Any Means Necessary.

“Gayton showed me that Zuma is a soldier fighting for the liberation of black people by ensuring South Africa became part of BRICS.

“Some people hate Zuma because he wants black people to be independent from white people,” said Ngqulunga.

Political Bureau