Legal team lambasted as Jacob Zuma loses leave to appeal application
Lawyers acting for former president Jacob Zuma got a judicial tongue-lashing for using “disrespectful and intemperate language” in their written submissions in their application for leave to appeal a decision refusing him a permanent stay of prosecution.
During argument before judges Jerome Mnguni, Esther Steyn and Poyo Dlwati last Friday, Zuma's counsel, Muzi Sikhakhane, apologised for the comments, which included allegations that the judges had “sanitised” facts, had “slavishly aligned” themselves to a version, and had made “gratuitous remarks” and “astonishing findings”.
In judgment refusing the application on Friday, the judges noted the apology had only been made after the state had asked for a punitive costs order against Zuma in this regard.
“We believe we must voice our displeasure at the disrespectful manner in which the court was addressed. The apology is not sufficient.
“Such scandalous and vexatious allegations should be avoided at all costs because they can bring the administration of justice into disrepute. They do more than just hurt judges' feelings or impugn their reputations.”
They said: "It is in the interests of justice and bringing the matter to finality that no appeal should ensue.
"With regard to costs, we were mindful that in applications of this nature it is not usual to grant a costs order against an applicant. However, in our view, Mr Zuma’s complaints were not genuine."
In his application, Zuma argued that his continued prosecution was a violation of his fair trial rights - because of the many delays in the matter which were not of his making - and a violation of his constitutional rights because of evidence of political interference during the investigation against him.
He said another court may well agree with him. In their ruling, the three judges said Zuma had to convince them “on proper grounds” that he had a realistic prospect of success on appeal.
They said he had failed to do this.
They also ruled against a similar application by French arms company Thales, Zuma’s co-accused in the corruption trial.
Zuma can now directly petition the Supreme Court of Appeal.