An exchange of emails between the National Prosecuting Authority and Judge President Achmat Jappie is one of the issues former President Jacob Zuma’s legal team may raise when he appears on corruption charges in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday.
The case was initially set down for May, but was postponed after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is expected that the Pietermaritzburg High Court will hear submissions from the state and defence teams setting down a trial date. This after the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed an application for leave to appeal by Zuma for a permanent stay of prosecution.
Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering that is linked to South Africa’s 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal package, while his co-accused, the French arms company Thales, is facing two charges.
In the e-mails, State prosecutor Advocate Billy Downer proposed to Judge Jappie that Zuma’s trial begin next year. When the letter reportedly leaked, Zuma’s lawyer said they found the correspondence suspicious.
Zuma’s lawyer Eric Mabuza registered his concern about communication between the NPA and the judiciary without their involvement.
In a statement, Mabuza said the communication between advocate Downer and Judge Jappie might create a perception that the intention was to influence the selection of a judge who will preside over Zuma’s trial.
However, the NPA responded by saying there was nothing sinister about the communication.
Zuma’s legal team wants the trial to start in October while the state proposes that it start next year citing the outbreak of the coronavirus.
In the video below, the Zuma case was last heard in February, when Zuma failed to appear, citing illness:
Meanwhile, there is no sign of Zuma supporters outside court yet, uMsunduzi traffic officers have only demarcated parking area outside the court.
The court will only allow a handful of journalists inside, ensuring there is social distance according to COVID-19 regulations.
In the video below, SABC News speaks to Edward Zuma who is at the court to support his father: