SA Former President, Jacob Zuma will have to pay for his own defence costs acquired in his personal capacity in criminal prosecution cases of evidence levelled against him.
“It is declared that the state isn’t subject for the legal expense incurred by Zuma,” said Judge Aubrey Ledwaba in passing on the judgment in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.
Ledwaba said the decision was taken by the Presidency and the state attorney that the state would cover Zuma’s legal costs incurred in his personal capacity was invalid and set aside.
The state attorney was also directed to compile a full and complete accounting of all legal costs that were incurred by Zuma in his personal capacity in the criminal prosecution instituted against him and all related or ancillary litigation. This includes all the applications referred to in his matter and which were paid for by the state. The state attorney was also told to take all necessary steps including the institution of civil proceedings to recover the amounts paid by the state for Zuma’s legal costs.
The state attorney was also ordered to file a report within three months of the date of the order detailing the steps that have been taken and that will be taken to recover the amounts paid by State for Zuma’s legal costs.
The DA filed papers late in March, asking the court to set aside a 2006 agreement relating to legal costs Zuma incurred for his criminal prosecution, which the Presidency signed.
This was after President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that the agreement, signed by Zuma under former president Thabo Mbeki, formed the basis of the decision to continue paying Zuma’s legal fees in the so-called spy tapes case.
Both the DA and EFF lodged applications in the High Court, asking it to set aside the decisions the state attorney made in Zuma’s bid to have his legal costs funded by the state.
During the hearing in November, advocate Thabani Masuku, who represented Zuma, said: “There is no evidence of corruption involved between the state attorney, Mr [Michael] Hulley, and Mr Zuma,” regarding the former president’s fees.
Masuku argued that the applicants had failed to address why it took more than 10 years to review the decision, adding that the DA knew about the funding as far back as September 2008 during a parliamentary question session.
The EFF also argued that it sought an order directing the former president and Hulley to pay the money back to the State attorney in Zuma’s legal battle.
It was the EFF’s argument that the State attorney paid more than R25m of taxpayers’ money to a private attorney firm, Hulley and Associates, for legal costs Zuma incurred.