News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
3 minute read
19 Apr 2018
6:18 am

Zuma must pay wasted legal costs – judge

Ilse de Lange

Despite reports suggesting Zuma would seek to intervene in the case, he was not represented at yesterday’s hearing.

The only way in which former president Jacob Zuma can avoid having to pay for the wasted legal costs of his abortive attempts to stop and overturn former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report, is via a petition to the Supreme Court of Appeal or an application to the Constitutional Court.

This emerged during legal arguments before a full bench of the High Court in Pretoria yesterday. It ended with Judge President Dunstan Mlambo granting leave to the state attorney to withdraw Zuma’s application for leave to appeal against the whole of the court’s judgment in the state capture case.

He ordered that Zuma must personally pay the legal costs on a punitive scale.

Mlambo also ordered the office of the state president to pay the wasted legal costs of the aborted application, including yesterday’s costs.

A full bench of the high court in December last year ordered Zuma, then president, to appoint a commission of inquiry into state capture and to personally pay the legal costs of his abortive applications to stop the release of the report and overturn the remedial action.

The court said Zuma was trying to protect his individual rights, as he was implicated in the report; that the applications were ill-advised and reckless; and that the public should not be made to foot the legal bill.

Zuma in January appointed a commission, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, to investigate allegations of state capture. He was forced to resign, and was replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa as president just a month later.

Despite media reports suggesting that Zuma would seek to intervene in the case, in a bid to eventually overturn the costs order against him, he was not represented at yesterday’s hearing and made no application or submissions about the matter.

All other parties involved came to court because of confusion about a paragraph contained in the president’s withdrawal of the application for leave to appeal, stating that the current president was not liable for the costs and the state attorney did not purport to act on Zuma’s behalf.

Counsel for the office of the president, Isaac Chowe, said the paragraph was just added to explain the situation regarding Zuma and his rights and did not affect the withdrawal of the application.

Chowe and the DA’s counsel told the court Zuma and his legal representatives were informed about the intended withdrawal – although the notice was not personally served on him.

The EFF’s counsel Dali Mpofu said “a party” – referring to Zuma – could reopen the matter by petitioning the Supreme Court of Appeal or by applying for leave to appeal in the Constitutional Court, but “it would probably not be advisable”.

Zuma’s criminal trial was earlier this month postponed in the High Court in Durban to June 8, pending his application to review national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams’ decision to reinstate the charges against him.

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