The High Court in Pietermaritzburg has once again postponed former president Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial.
Judge Piet Koen on Tuesday morning deferred the case to 1 August 2022 for a decision on Zuma’s “reconsideration” application before Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) president Mandisa Maya.
The date of 15 August 2022 was set aside as the holding date for the start of the long-awaited arms deal corruption trial.
“The adjournment is granted on the basis that if the application has been determined by 1 August 2022, and no application to the Constitutional Court is being lodged, the trial shall resume at 10 am on 15 August 2022.
“And [the trial] shall thereafter continue until 16 September 2022 and again from 7 November 2022 to 2 December 2022,” Judge Koen said in his order.
Zuma was not present in court on Tuesday due to judge Koen’s ruling in April, which excused him from attending court proceedings.
At the time, Zuma’s lawyer advocate Dali Mpofu informed the court the former president had a medical emergency and couldn’t attend court.
However, Judge Koen on Tuesday ordered that Zuma should be present in court on 15 August if the trial is to resume on that date. This means he is not required to be in court again on 1 August.
Application ‘on its way’ to Judge Maya
Earlier, state prosecutor, advocate Billy Downer, informed Judge Koen the state had checked with the registrar of the SCA on Monday on the outcome of the reconsideration application.
Downer said it was confirmed that Judge Maya had not ruled on the application because it was “on its way” to her office for consideration.
“The reason for the delay is unclear to me, it is not our mandate to interrogate that.
“But it has been received and the papers are ready and they’re on their way to the president [of the SCA],” Downer said.
Downer expressed the state’s disappointment with the continued delays with the start of the trial.
“We did not file an answer precisely to speed along the process and we urged that the matter be speeded up,” he said.
Zuma’s legal team filed the application after the SCA in March dismissed his appeal bid to have Downer removed from prosecuting the corruption trial.
The appeals court based in Bloemfontein had agreed with Judge Koen’s judgment in October last year dismissing Zuma’s application for Downer to be recused from the case.
The SCA found that Zuma’s appeal had no reasonable prospects of success and there was “no other compelling reason why an appeal should be heard”.
But the former president’s legal team asked Judge Maya to reconsider that decision.
Zuma wants Downer removed from his corruption case because he claims the prosecutor is biased against him and leaked his confidential medical records to the media.
Downer and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) have strongly denied the allegations and accused Zuma of stalling tactics.
Zuma and French arms manufacturer Thales, which allegedly bribed Zuma, are on trial over the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal concluded in the late 1990s.
The former president faces 18 charges and 783 counts of fraud‚ corruption, money laundering, and racketeering – while Thales is facing four counts.