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State Will Not Suffer Prejudice If Zuma Case Is Postponed

The State will not suffer any prejudice if former president Jacob Zuma’s application for a postponement is granted, the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg heard on Monday.

Zuma’s lawyers are seeking a postponement of his application for acquittal on corruption charges through a special plea because it is being held virtually.

“It is not right for the State, particularly the NPA, to want to treat Mr Zuma differently. They have been doing that for too long,” Masuku said during the virtual hearing.

He added:

They [NPA] must apply the law as they are commanded to do so in terms of the Act. This zealous pursuit for Mr Zuma at all costs by bending the rules and cutting corners is not right. Let’s have a fair trial. Let’s have him in court. Let’s have everybody there [and] let’s argue the case there.

Masuku also told the court that there would be no risks or prejudice in having the matter postponed.

“The argument that has been advanced by Mr (Wim) Trengove (for the NPA), not once did he refer to the prejudice that the State will suffer if there is one or two- or three-weeks postponement. Not one,” he said.

Masuku also rejected the State’s argument that the application was a delaying tactic.

“The greatest part of the delay had been the State’s handling of the case. The State is solely responsible for the 15 plus years of delay.”

He argued:

We are here because the State had been told by the SCA [Supreme Court of Appeal] that ‘go and do your job properly, prosecute the man properly’, and to try and come up with short cuts of hearings in his absence we are introducing further difficulties in terms of the conditions under which accused persons should be tried.

 

The advocate also said Zuma should be in a public courtroom where he could freely consult with his lawyers.

Masuku added that the suggestion made by the NPA that Zuma’s team can consult with him by telephone was, “… awkward coming from a body like the NPA”.

Masuku said there was, “… no dignity” in the former President being asked to consult with his lawyers via cellphones.

“Where is the privacy of the consultation there?” Masuku said.

He said a postponement would be consistent with a proper administration of justice and would enable the matter to be tried on its merits.

“The NPA’s opposition to this postponement is of great concern for how this matter has always been dealt with. It is quite telling that when Mr Zuma is incarcerated that the State would insist that a plea that may result in his acquittal should be debated in his physical absence outside the courtroom because it favours the State,” Masuku said.

Trengove earlier argued that Zuma “desperately” seeks to avoid answering the charges of corruption, fraud, and money laundering made against him.

“He raises objections again and again,” Trengove said, adding the objections raised have already been dealt with by the SCA in the spy tapes case and a full bench in his stay of prosecution case.

Judge Piet Koen is expected to deliver judgment on Tuesday morning.

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