Wed. Jul 17th, 2019

Stay of prosecution: Jacob Zuma faces an uneasy three-month wait

Jacob ZumaJudgement in this matter has been reserved.

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Former President Jacob Zuma will have to endure a three-month
wait, while the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) High Court in Pietermaritzburg deliberates
on his application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

Zuma, who spent a full week in court alongside his new legal counsel, Muzi Sikhakhane, argued that corruption charges levelled against him were part of a subversive political plot, one driven by a sinister and divisive agenda, ostensibly, from within warring factions in the African National Congress (ANC).

Jacob Zuma plays the victim

Sikhakhane’s fundamental reasoning for a permanent stay of
prosecution, which, if granted, will halt any further litigation against Zuma,
is that political agitation and a biased public perception mitigates the right
to a free and fair trial. Thales, the French defence company accused of
corruptive collusion which culminated in the infamous arms deal and ensuing charges,
has relied on the same defence.

The State, however, has argued that Zuma’s ‘political plot
defence is nothing more than an attempt to deflect attention away from the
mountain of evidence which stands against the former president.

Zuma is facing numerous charges of fraud, racketeering and
money laundering. Prosecutors allege that Zuma pocketed R4 million in the late
1990s; illicit gains funnelled through convicted fraudster,  Schabir Shaik, who, at the time, acted as his
financial advisor.

In the eleventh hour, Sikhakhane sought to sway the decision in his client’s favour by producing a ‘letter’ which allegedly demonstrated political influence over the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), at the hands of former President Thabo Mbeki and Justice Minister Maduna.

State prosecutors blast Zuma’s defence

The State’s Wim Trengrove blasted Zuma’s conspiracy theories
and blamed delays in the trial on the former president’s own subversive maneuvering.
Trengrove, together with his colleague Billy Downer, pocked holes in Zuma’s
defence, arguing that the application for a permanent stay of prosecution be
denied.

When will Zuma learn his fate?

Judgement in this matter has been reserved and will need to
be finalised within three months. If Zuma fails to procure a permanent stay of
prosecution, he will be due back in criminal court on 15 October 2019. If, on
the other hand, the former president is awarded a permanent stay of
prosecution, the state has no further recourse in the matter and criminal
proceedings, which have lasted almost 14 years, will be indefinitely halted.

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