Zuma’s next move unclear after SCA rejected his appeal in arms deal case

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It is not clear if former President Jacob Zuma will approach the Constitutional Court after his application to appeal the Pietermaritzburg High Court’s ruling was rejected by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The former President had petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal directly after the Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed his application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

Zuma and French arms company, Thales, are facing fraud, corruption and money laundering charges emanating from the 1999 multi-billion rand arms procurement tender for the South African National Defence Force.

This week Zuma parted ways with his attorney,  Daniel Mantsha, and enlisted the services of a Johannesburg based, attorney Eric Mabuza.

The former President will, however, retain services of his senior counsel, Advocate Muzi Skhakhane.

According to a statement by the Jacob Zuma Foundation, his legal team will now prepare for what he says is the biggest case in his life.

Last month, Zuma’s bid to appeal the decision by the Pietermaritzburg High Court to dismiss his permanent stay was shattered when the SCA rejected his application. This was even before hearing his arguments. Now his legal team is preparing for the case.

“The former president has taken all of us in his confidence. That’s what he wants to do, hence for this to prepare for the trial so that he can have his day in court and share his side of the story in this much long-awaited trial which is over 15 years. So, that is what the former President is busy with. He has given us clear instruction as a legal team that we must be ready for trial and we must ensure that he is also ready for trial,” explains Zuma’s new attorney, Eric  Mabuza.

Meanwhile, Zuma’s co-accused, Thales, has filed an application with the Constitutional Court to review a decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to reinstate charges against the company.

However, Zuma is keeping his cards close to his chest about his next legal action after his application was rejected by the SCA.

“We will be giving an announcement in the next few days about the fate of the application before the Constitutional Court, so if you could bear with us. We don’t want to say something before we communicate with the courts on that score,” says Mabuza.

Zuma and Thales are due back in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on 6  May. In February, an arrest warrant was issued but stayed at the previous court appearance after the former president failed to appear due to ill health.