Tue. Dec 10th, 2019

Jacob Zuma in court: The possible factors that could cause a delay

Jacob Zuma courtAnd so begins the five days that could make or break Jacob Zuma. The courts are set to decide if he must face a criminal trial, but he’ll have aces up his sleeve.

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“Judgement Day” is coming for Jacob Zuma. One of the most crucial weeks of his life lies ahead of him, as the Pietermaritzburg High Court kicks off five days of deliberations on Monday. These will decide if Msholozi has to face a criminal trial for his alleged role in an arms deal fiasco.

It’s been 16 years since he and Schabir Shaik were implicated in a bribery and corruption scandal alongside the French armoury company Thales. In fact, it’s been such a long time coming, that Zuma’s co-accused Shaik has since been trialled, sentenced and freed from prison – albeit on medical grounds.

If you’ve ever seen Jacob Zuma deal with a legal issue before, you’ll know that he only operates with one tactic: Delay, delay, delay. There’s a good chance that the defence team will find a way to postpone the case yet again this week, and there are a few avenues to explore.

Could Jacob Zuma postpone his court case again?

New legal team for Jacob Zuma

For a start, uBaba now has a fresh squad of lawyers at his disposal. Since the case began and he was first summoned to court in April 2018, Zuma dumped the usually-dependable Mike Hellens and has since experimented with different representatives. This in itself could be an underhand tactic.

Given that there are hundreds of pages of evidence to mull over – documents, affidavits and statements etc – it’s likely that a new set of legal experts will consider the idea of asking for more time to review the paperwork – we’ve already seen this excuse used in November, though. The judge could easily reject these claims.

Appeal to other courts

Jacob Zuma and his defence may even decide to play ball, even if that’s only for the week ahead. If the bench decides he must face a criminal trial, don’t think that will be accepted by the 77-year-old. He could still take the judgement to either the Supreme Court of Appeals of the Constitutional Court, which could add months – or years – to proceedings.

A possible recusal

Business Day have previously reported that Zuma’s lawyers demanded to have the NPA disclose whether KwaZulu-Natal deputy Judge President Mjabuliseni Madondo was the subject of an investigation by the Hawks.  

Madondo is one of the presiding judges in this case, and it is entirely possible that this could be manipulated by the defence. Should they seek to postpone proceedings, they could end up asking for this particular magistrate to recuse (remove) himself. If he gives an unfavourable judgement towards Zuma, it’s likely the advocates will cry foul.

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