Sun, 01 Aug 2021

  • Former president Jacob Zuma's corruption case has been postponed to 10 August.
  • His lawyers argued that the State would not suffer any prejudice if the matter was postponed.
  • Zuma wanted the postponement, mainly because it was being held on a virtual platform.

The KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg has granted former president Jacob Zuma's application for the postponement of his corruption trial.

Judge Piet Koen postponed the case to 10 August, and it is scheduled to run until 13 August.

He said the directive to hear arguments in the matter virtually "shall continue to apply unless revoked or revised".

Koen ordered the parties and the Department of Correctional Services to compile a list of considerations and/or prejudices that they consider relevant to his decision to hold the special plea hearing on a virtual platform.

He said:

The list of considerations and possible prejudice... must be compiled with reference to the circumstances that would prevail or are anticipated to prevail as from 9 August 2021.

Zuma wanted the postponement, mainly because it was being held on a virtual platform.

On Monday, his advocate, Thabani Masuku, SC, told the court that the State would not suffer any prejudice if the postponement application was granted.

Masuku also accused the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of treating Zuma differently to other accused.

"It is not right for the State, particularly the NPA, to want to treat Mr Zuma differently. They have been doing that for too long," Masuku said during the virtual hearing.

READ | 'Yet another delaying tactic': Why state is opposing new Zuma bid for corruption trial postponement

"They (NPA) must apply the law as they are commanded to do so in terms of the act. This zealous pursuit for Mr Zuma at all costs, by bending the rules and cutting corners, is not right. Let's have a fair trial. Let's have him in court. Let's have everybody there [and] let's argue the case there."

He submitted that there were no risks or prejudice in having the matter postponed.

Masuku also said Zuma should be in a public courtroom where he could freely consult with his lawyers. He also said there was "no dignity" in the former president being asked to consult with his lawyers via cellphone.

"Where is the privacy of the consultation there?" Masuku said.

But advocate Wim Trengove, SC, for the NPA, argued that Zuma "desperately" sought to avoid answering the charges of corruption, fraud, and money laundering against him.

"He raises objections again and again," Trengove said, adding that the objections had already been dealt with by the Supreme Court of Appeal in the spy tapes case and a full Bench in his stay of prosecution case.

ALSO READ | Zuma's lawyers say he will testify in 'special plea' bid for corruption acquittal, seek trial postponement

In May, Zuma pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, including corruption, fraud, racketeering, and money laundering, News24 reported.

The former president faces 16 charges relating to 783 payments he allegedly received from his former financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, as well as a R500 000-a-year bribe that the State says Shaik facilitated for him from French arms company Thales.

Source: News24

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