Jacob Zuma appeared in the dock for a third time today, this time in the Pietermaritzburg High Court where the matter has now been moved. Crowds of supporters gathered outside the court in anticipation of the former president ’s appearance to face charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering. Picture Leon Lestrade/ African News Agency(ANA)

Former president Jacob Zuma’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution would be based on four pillars, his new counsel Mike Hellens SC told the court yesterday shortly after announcing their plans to abandon the decision to apply for a review of the charges against him.
Hellens said these “pillars” included a delay in charging and in going to trial and significant pre-trial irregularities in the investigation by the National Prosecuting Authority.

He added that the two most “ominous” issues would be centred on the spying and “eavesdropping” on Zuma, referring to the Browse Mole report and the so-called spy tapes; and, secondly, “executive interference with prosecutorial independence”.

Hellens said after consulting with Zuma, they decided making an application for a permanent stay would have “greater prospects of success”.

“The previous legal team stood at a crossroads considering a review of the matter. We decided a review was not needed and discarded that matter. It’s not viable and it is not what Mr Zuma chooses,” Hellens told Deputy Chief Justice Isaac Madondo who is presiding over the matter.

French arms dealer Thales said they also intend to apply for a permanent stay of prosecution. However it also emerged yesterday that the State intends adding another charge to the indictment against them.

State advocate Billy Downer said according to National Director of Public Prosecutions advocate Shaun Abrahams they intended to add a “sub-charge” against Thales. However Thales’s lawyer, advocate Anton Katz, told the court that the charge mentioned did not exist under South African law.

Madondo has ordered the State to clarify what the charge would be and furnish Thales with the final indictment within 14 days.

The matter will resume on November 30 when the State will indicate its position and the time frames it will need to reply to the applications for permanent stay.

Zuma’s new legal team came out guns blazing yesterday with Hellens confidently placing on record that “this team is here to stay”.

He said there were no issues of funding that would affect them and the outcome of the matter with the EFF and DA would not affect them.

The State is funding Zuma’s legal battle pending a North Gauteng High Court application brought by the DA for Zuma to pay his way.

Zuma’s new legal team is made up of Hellens and fellow senior counsels Dawie Joubert, Muzi Sikhakhane and Thabani Masuku and junior counsel Mpilo Sikhakhane. His new instructing attorney is known Gupta associate and former Denel chair, Daniel Mantsha.

Madondo has given Zuma’s legal team three months to prepare for his application for a permanent stay of prosecution. The application has to be filed by November 16 but the matter will return to court at the end of that month.