Addressing supporters after his appearance in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday, former president Jacob Zuma said the court should approve his permanent stay of prosecution application and drop arms deal-related corruption charges against him because of the political interference and unreasonable delays in the case.
Judge Mjabuliseni Madondo postponed the matter to 20 May 2019 when the court will spend three days considering Zuma’s application to have the charges dropped. It was Zuma’s fourth appearance since the charges against him were re-instated.
He has been charged with 12 counts of fraud, two counts of corruption, one count of racketeering and one count of money-laundering alongside French arms manufacturer Thales after he allegedly received bribes through his financial advisor Schabir Shaik to protect the company from scrutiny regarding the arms deal.
Zuma said the charges against him were a violation of his constitutional rights. He said he deserves equal protection from the Constitution because he is also a citizen.
“I am also South African, I shouldn’t be treated as an orphan,” he told supporters.
In 2016, the Constitutional Court found Zuma “failed to uphold, comply and respect the Constitution” when he disregarded the Public Protector’s remedial action on the upgrades to his Nkandla home.
Zuma said he had faced charges during apartheid – then he was sentenced to 10 years in 1963 for conspiring to overthrow the government – but he was shocked to be facing charges in democratic South Africa while his ANC comrades were in power.
Advocate Mike Hellens SC, representing Zuma, said the NPA had shown a dismissive attitude towards Zuma, which he will elaborate on in May.
The former president, who was pressured by the ANC to resign in February, was joined in court by a number of allies, including former communications minister Faith Muthambi, former Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, former finance and co-operative government minister Des Van Rooyen, former North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo and Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama.
The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association’s (MKMVA) Carl Niehaus said the charges against Zuma were “trumped up” because he represented the poor, introduced free higher education and pushed radical economic transformation.
Niehaus warned former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, telling him to watch out after Moseneke called Zuma “a bumbling fool”.
In his application for a permanent stay of prosecution, Zuma noted delays and political interference in the case, which the NPA dropped in 2009 after the emergence of the “spy tapes” but reintroduced in March 2018 after a court said that decision was irrational.
“The delays have been extremely long, the pre-trial irregularities glaring, the prejudice to me is blatant, there are no victims or complainants and the political interference in the prosecution passes as other circumstances or factors the court should take into account,” said Zuma in his affidavit.
He claimed former president Thabo Mbeki and former NPA boss Vusi Pikoli charged him to remove him as deputy president while the ANC was divided over its leadership.
“Without due processes or court determination of any guilt or otherwise, I have faced public and media prosecution engineered and orchestrated by the NPA itself, the result of which is that my name has already been made to be synonymous with corruption,” said Zuma.
Thales has also applied for a permanent stay of prosecution. The company has argued that its right to a fair trial without unreasonable delay would be violated if the case proceeds. DM