Former President Jacob Zuma will know next Friday if he’ll be granted leave to appeal the dismissal of their applications for a stay of prosecution.
Zuma and French arms company Thales presented their argument to a full bench at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday.
The two want the court to allow them to appeal last month’s judgement which dismissed their application to have charges against them quashed.
Among Zuma’s claim is that the court disregarded his arguments of an unfair delay of 14 years and the alleged use of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) by certain politicians to fight political battles.
However the state is opposed to these claims arguing that there is no evidence that proves the NPA breached its prosecutorial mandate.
It was another verbal wrestling between legal minds as Zuma and Thales fight for leave to appeal the decision by the court to have charges against them quashed.
Both Zuma and Thales told the full bench of judges that they believe another court might come to different findings. Zuma’s senior counsel Muzi Sikhakhane said he believes the Supreme Court of Appeal could come to a different finding.
“And I have no qualms and I’m not trying to persuade the court to change that philosophy. That the violations that we raised, that the prejudices that we raised, that have been caused by what we call political interference have compromised the integrity of the prosecution, of course the court tells us all of those prejudices all of those violations that we raise are outweighed by the seriousness of the offence. The appeal quote may well hold a different judicial philosophy to that one.”
Advocate Sikhakhane believes the court overlooked the extent of prejudice suffered by Zuma due to the delays which according to him will result in an unfair trial.
Zuma says the court never applied its mind about the delays of about 14 years which infringed his right to a speedy trial. Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane speaks to the responsibility, he says, the NPA should shoulder for the delays.
“First the responsibility constitutionally to have a case heard speedily is that of the NPA and I’m not suggesting that the accused can do as he likes. I’m suggesting that the primary decision that the Section 35, the organ of state is the primary organ that is responsible to ensure that it happens.”
While Thales also filed for leave to appeal, the company has also petitioned the Constitutional Court directly. Arguing in court Thales senior Counsel Anton Katz said the court overlooked their argument that the NPA used the wrong provision.
However, the state is opposed to both applications by Zuma and Thales. Advocate Andrew Breitenbach appearing for the state disputes claims by former President Jacob Zuma’s legal team that former NPA boss, Bulelani Ngcuka abused his powers and that he had political motives in the arms deal case.
“So, we submit that Mr Zuma’s contention that this court should have found that by explaining to the public why he decided not to prosecute Mr Zuma, that Mr Ngcuka was playing a political role or abusing his prosecutorial powers to advance political outcome is baseless. It is underpinned by no facts whatsoever. It is comprehensively disputed by Mr Ngcuka in his affidavit and also by Mr Downer in his affidavit.”
Judgement has been reserved for Friday, 29 November. Authors Vusi Makhosini, Nonkululeko Hlope