NPA wants Constitutional Court to dismiss Jacob Zuma's 'hopeless' appeal

09 April 2020 - 14:45 By Karyn Maughan
Former president Jacob Zuma claims that the 15-year delay in the case against him, and alleged political interference, mean it is impossible for him to receive a fair trial from the NPA.
Former president Jacob Zuma claims that the 15-year delay in the case against him, and alleged political interference, mean it is impossible for him to receive a fair trial from the NPA.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

The National Prosecuting Authority has slammed former president Jacob Zuma’s last-ditch attempt to permanently stop his corruption trial as “hopeless” — and said the application's “real purpose and effect” was to delay the case against him.

“What the public interest and the interests of justice now require is that Mr Zuma stand trial,” lead Zuma prosecutor Billy Downer states in papers filed at the Constitutional Court on Wednesday.

“The State is ready to proceed.”

Downer has urged the country's apex court to dismiss Zuma’s latest bid to appeal a ruling delivered by the Pietermaritzburg high court last year, in which three judges rejected the former president’s argument that the 15-year-old corruption case against him was fatally tainted by undue delay and political interference.

The Supreme Court of Appeal last month dismissed Zuma’s attempts to challenge that decision without even hearing argument on the case, on the basis that his appeal bid had no reasonable prospects of success.

Now Zuma has turned to the Constitutional Court, the only option he has left if he is to avoid going on trial this year on charges that he received corrupt benefits from his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, in exchange for using his position to advance Shaik’s business interests.

Zuma also stands accused of accepting a R500,000-a-year bribe from French arms company Thales in exchange for his “political protection” from any potential investigation into the controversial multibillion rand arms deal.

Zuma claims that the 15-year delay in the state proceeding with the case against him — as well as alleged political interference in his prosecution — mean it is impossible for him to receive a fair trial from the NPA.

But Downer said Zuma has done nothing to prove these claims. He is also adamant that the trial delay, which the Pietermaritzburg high court found both the NPA and Zuma were equally responsible for, has not had any serious impact on the evidence that the state intends to lead against the former president.

This, Downer said, was because the case against Zuma was “very thoroughly investigated between 2000 and 2006” and “the bulk of the evidential material is documentary, the documents have been preserved and copies of most of the relevant documents were handed to Mr Zuma’s legal representatives as long ago as 2006”.

He added that the state handed over an “updated forensic report” on Zuma’s financial affairs during the period of his alleged corruption by Shaik and Thales to his lawyers last year.

While Zuma remains adamant that his multiple court challenges to his prosecution were motivated by genuine legal concerns, Downer is unconvinced.

He has told the Constitutional Court that Zuma’s latest appeal bid is nothing more than “a continuation of Mr Zuma’s unashamed ‘Stalingrad litigation strategy’”.

“Its real purpose and effect is to cause yet another delay in the commencement of his long-awaited trial. Preliminary litigation aimed at the delay of criminal proceedings should not be entertained,” said Downer.

Downer said Zuma’s Constitutional Court appeal application is arguably the tenth legal attempt by him to delay the case against him from going ahead. 


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