Did he do justice to his reputation? SA weighs in on Dali Mpofu defending Zuma in court
Advocate Dali Mpofu’s arguments on behalf of former president Jacob Zuma saw him top the Twitter trends list on Tuesday.
Mpofu represented Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg high court in an urgent application to stay an arrest order.
Zuma was found guilty of contempt of a Constitutional Court ruling that he must appear at the state capture inquiry, and was sentenced to 15 months in jail. His application for a rescission of the judgment is set to be heard by the ConCourt on July 12.
In a hearing streamed live on the judiciary’s YouTube channel, Mpofu argued that Zuma was a senior citizen and not a flight risk.
He said the court should suspend Zuma’s warrant of arrest, citing that his health condition was “uncontestably precarious”.
“What we have here, my Lord, is a warrant of arrest for the former head of state who will be 80 years next birthday, and who is not a flight risk in anybody’s version,” said Mpofu
Mpofu said if police arrested Zuma before his rescission application was heard, they could be found guilty of pre-emptive contempt of the high court’s process.
“This is the first time in this country, and I will dare say in another democratic country, where a person is being sent to jail without a trial in proceedings where the applicant seeks imprisonment. It has never happened under the sun, never,” said Mpofu.
He argued that Zuma was being sentenced without facing trial and asked judge Bhekisisa Mnguni to grant him a stay, saying if not granted Zuma would be subjected to the “worst imaginable” human rights violation.
However, the argument received a cold reception from the state capture inquiry’s lawyers, with attorney Tembeka Ngcukaitobi saying it was an excuse for Zuma to avoid jail.
Ngcukaitobi said Zuma took the law into his own hands, which was grounds for dismissing his application.
“We are dealing with a repetitive and recalcitrant lawbreaker in the form of Mr Zuma,” said Ngcukaitobi.
“He has now come to ask you to assist him to break the law further. You should reject that.”
On social media, many expressed their views on Mpofu’s argument. Some praised his “fire”, while others suggested he “take the L” (loss).
Here is a snapshot of some reactions:
Adv Dali Mpofu SC is like a diesel engine.— Mzwanele Manyi (@MzwaneleManyi) July 6, 2021
He starts off slowly but soon warms up and the torque kicks in, then he becomes unstoppable
Adv Dali Mpofu must just concede this one. He's not doing justice to his reputation.— Jama ka Sjadu🇿🇦 (@GcumeA) July 6, 2021
Pietermaritzburg High Court
Dali Mpofu is a machine! He is very sober. This fight against Ngcukaitobi is like a master vs. student fight. The student is young and energetic, but the master is well-experienced and extremely knowledgeable.— Edmond Phiri (@edmonphiri) July 6, 2021
Zuma will sleep in Nkandla till Concourt hearing. pic.twitter.com/IT4TUGIwfI
Adv Mpofu says the jurisdiction issue is a “red herring”. Judge Mnguni says “no, jurisdiction is central in this case” 😊 Well that’s a sign of where things are going.— Mbekezeli (@MbekezeliMB) July 6, 2021
Adv Dali Mpofu may well achieve a stay of execution of the constitutional court order against Mr Zuma by talking until Mr Zuma departs from this life.— Eusebius McKaiser (@Eusebius) July 6, 2021
I see some of you are saying “if I had a tough case I wouldn’t get Dali Mpofu as a lawyer”.— The Dissenting Intellectual. (@MightiJamie) July 6, 2021
He won cases for Patricia De Lille. He won for Norma Mngoma, he won for Gareth Cliff and more.
Stop slandering his ability or preparation because you don’t like who he is representing. pic.twitter.com/ds8MP3tqcU