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Did he do justice to his reputation? SA weighs in on Dali Mpofu defending Zuma in court

07 July 2021 - 10:00 By unathi nkanjeni
Advocate Dali Mpofu represented Jacob Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg high court this week.
Advocate Dali Mpofu represented Jacob Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg high court this week.

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: