Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen has granted former President Jacob Zuma a postponement to the start of his corruption trial to May 17. This is pending a reconsideration application to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) president Mandisa Maya.
Last month, the SCA dismissed Zuma’s petition for leave to appeal to remove the lead prosecutor Advocate Billy Downer from the case.
Zuma’s legal team asked the SCA president for clarification on the ruling to dismiss his petition, claiming it has no reasonable chance of success.
Zuma and French arms company Thales face charges of racketeering, corruption and money laundering linked to the multibillion-rand arms deal.
This is how Judge Koen handed down his ruling. “When weighing all the relevant facts and circumstances alluded to by the parties, the conclusion I have reached is that the trial must be adjourned to allow the reconsideration application submitted to the president of the SCA pursuant to the proviso of section 17(2)(f) of the Superior Courts Act to be disposed of.”
Judge Koen explains, “Criminal trials are not generally adjourned sine die. There is no compelling reason why the present trial should be adjourned sine die, it’s well overdue. As much as the interest of justice demands that Mr Zuma’s reconsideration application should be allowed to be disposed of, there is also the interest of justice that demands that the litigation must reach finality.”
Earlier, African National Congress (ANC) member and former Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association spokesperson, Carl Niehaus said Zuma’s corruption case is a manipulation of the state resources to settle political battles in the governing party.
Niehaus added that the past 22 years have been a lot for Zuma to endure and state prosecutor, Advocate Billy Downer must be removed from his case.
“It indicates for me a continuation of 22 years of manipulation of this case, by the authorities, including Mr Billy Downer. He’s been at the heart of this case throughout. And we know how the NPA has been manipulating this case making sure the president Jacob Zuma at certain stages was specifically arrested.”
In the video below, the spokesperson for Jacob Zuma Foundation Mzwanele Manyi addresses journalists: