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‘There is no Zuma law,’ says judge warning Mpofu over wasting time

‘There is no Zuma law,’ says judge warning Mpofu over wasting time
Jacob Zuma and his daughter Dudu Zuma Sambudla at the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Johannesburg on 18 May 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

A high court judge has cautioned former president Jacob Zuma and his legal team against accusing the court of treating him differently by applying ‘Zuma law’. Judge Lebogang Modiba was responding to arguments made by advocate Dali Mpofu, counsel for Zuma, in a case brought against him by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

‘I have instructions from my client to raise a complaint regarding the issue of the shortening of the time for the hearing of the matter, which has then resulted in his prejudice in terms of delivering his case,” Dali Mpofu said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked the Gauteng High Court Division, sitting in Johannesburg, to interdict Jacob Zuma from privately prosecuting him.

Zuma has accused Ramaphosa of being an accessory to a crime in his ongoing prosecution against the NPA’s Billy Downer. Zuma alleges that Downer leaked his confidential medical records to journalist Karyn Maughan – records that were submitted to the court in Zuma’s arms deal case.

zuma mpofu

Former President Jacob Zuma arrives at the Gauteng High Court Division, sitting in Johannesburg on 18 May 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

Downer denies leaking the documents, but Zuma had written to Ramaphosa requesting Downer be investigated. Zuma claims that by not instituting an inquiry into Downer, Ramaphosa is an accessory to criminal conduct.

On Thursday, the second day of proceedings, Judge Lebogang Modiba issued a directive on time allocations for the remaining arguments. Mpofu, who started his argument on Wednesday, was given from 9.30am to 11am to argue the remainder of his case. The court told him to halt his argument after several warnings on time.

“Mr Mpofu, you have consistently ignored the directives I have given you regarding time. I have asked you to round up. It is now 11.30. You were supposed to have finished at 11,” Modiba told Mpofu.

After the tea break, Mpofu said Zuma had complained about the court curtailing his argument and potentially infringing on his right to be heard.

“I have instructions from my client to raise a complaint regarding the issue of the shortening of the time for the hearing of the matter, which has then resulted in his prejudice in terms of delivering his case.”

Read more on Daily Maverick: Judges tell Dali Mpofu to watch his language in heated Ramaphosa vs Zuma courtroom exchange

Mpofu argued that the court had shortened the hearing time from two days to “one-and-a-half days… He feels that since we are here, that time should be used for him to ventilate his case. With that complaint, it goes with a request for time to round up his argument. Because this is a very important matter for him. He very specifically asked me to convey that, in his view, he has never seen something like that, and it is a manifestation of what he calls ‘Zuma law’.”

Ramaphosa’s advocate, Ngwako Maenetje SC, argued that Zuma had not been prejudiced because all the legal teams had agreed on time allocations prior to the hearing, and, “how a party uses their time is up to them”.

After a brief deliberation, the judges refused to grant Mpofu more time to argue, saying they had been accommodating toward Zuma.

“The times that the parties have used to argue are actually the times as agreed by them. So, this morning when I mentioned in court that we have revised the time, we did not in any manner curtail time allocated to any party. We changed the times, but the time allocated to each party was not curtailed. And, in fact, the first respondent (Zuma) was allocated more time than was set out in the second amended practice note,” Judge Modiba said.

She noted that Mpofu had exceeded his time on Wednesday and started 30 minutes earlier on Thursday, leading him to have almost one-and-a-half more hours than initially agreed on.

“The notion that the court has been unfair to his client has no basis because this court has been extremely accommodating and has afforded substantially more time to Mr Mpofu to argue, and invariably it gives him an unfair advantage over the other parties.

“This court has respected the parties and the public that is in the court. When we have committed, we will be here at 9.30, we are here at 9.30. When we adjourn, we are back on time. Mr Mpofu has been the only person in this courtroom who essentially operates by times known only to him. Even when I warn you, I have no idea when you are going to stop,” she said, explaining why Mpofu’s request was denied.

Judge Modiba also cautioned against the use of the term “Zuma law”.

“Those remarks are utterly inappropriate. From the reasoning that I have given in this ruling, clearly there isn’t any new law that is applied only to Mr Zuma. I have demonstrated in my reasoning how he has been accommodated more than the other parties. It is inappropriate for you to be accusing the court of unfairly treating Mr Zuma,” she said.

Mpofu said he was not expressing a personal view but rather conveying the view of his client.

Judgment in the case is reserved. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    I have never seen anyone so happy to be in court.

    I suppose it’s the only way he can get anyone to show any interest in him these days.

    And the daughter clearly loves her 7 seconds of fame. Oooh look at me, I’m in court with daddy – again. He’s my hero!
    (Pop quiz: how many days do you think she’ll wear that t-shirt before freshening up?)

    • Confucious Says says:

      Remember, when Zuma is confused he smiles. Take, for example, when he attempts to count. He knows he can’t, so he starts laughing at his grade 2 qualifications.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    All Mpoohfoo is worried about is his bank account – I’m assuming he gets paid by the minute (although I wonder if Msholozi has enough mates left to bankroll this farce of jurisprudence?!) so the more kak he praats the more kash (sp) he gets paid?

  • Deon Botha-Richards says:

    Mpofu regularly pontificates in court. It’s about time he be curtailed.

    • dmpotulo says:

      It is all possible that Mobutu seseZuma pays all his legal fees cash. Cash is King. He once claimed that he is broke and Manyi embarked upon fund raising exercise through his Family Foundation. But how does he afford a SC? All his cases are hopeless, baseless but he persist. He always plays victim, I wonder if he has any pride.

      • Gerrie Pretorius says:

        No he doesn’t. Neither is there any other anc cadre who has either pride nor shame nor morals.

      • iimachusi says:

        With one wondering whether the Gadaffi billions were all indeed sent to Eswatini or is Mpofu being paid in Dollars which he kèeps under a Sofa and didn’t declare. Where r our forensic investigators here…

  • Henry Henry says:

    Zuma’s case against Ramaphosa is so hopeless, so feeble, so flimsy – so contrived – that it stinks to high heavens. It’s remarkable that the judiciary even entertains it?
    The case (and his lawyer’s conduct) is all about legal activism. Challenging the legal system and the judiciary. Actually challenging the constitutional order.
    It is fundamentally at odds with the Rule of Law and with the constitution and the legal system on which it is based.
    It displays Zuma’s ( and his lawyers’) disdain and derision for the system. For the stately order.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    It appears that Zuma has received truck loads of money from his Indian friends when looking at what he spends with all his court cases.

  • Donald Knight says:

    About time someone shut this whining showboater up!

  • Gregory Scott says:

    It’s about time that the judiciary brings Mpofu to order in court.
    I was worried that the judiciary was applying and adhering to Mpofu Law!

  • Abel Mngadi says:

    I am not surprised that no sane person actually uses Mpofu in court, except a certain group of cadres. He always uses legally flawed logic and arguments. Sometimes I wonder if these cases are not designed to launder money stored in Nkandla and convert it to bankable money via the advocate. Just speculating. Not fact.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Mpofu represents a statue,he stalls so long he atrophies

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