The Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday granted former president Jacob Zuma a postponement of three weeks for his arms deal corruption trial.
Judge Piet Koen, who presided over the proceedings, delivered the ruling on Tuesday morning.
Koen had adjourned the case on Monday after he heard a long day of arguments between Zuma’s counsel – advocate Dali Mpofu and advocate Thabani Masuku – as well as advocate Wim Trengove, who is representing the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and its lead prosecutor, Billy Downer.
List of considerations and prejudices
The corruption trial, which involves Zuma and French arms firm company, Thales, will now resume in August 2021.
“The trial is adjourned to 10-13 August 2021 with the adjudication of the issues raised in the special plea, in terms of Section 106(1)H, of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977,” Koen said in the ruling.
The judge said the directive of 15 July, which indicated that the Zuma’s special plea would be heard virtually, would continue to apply unless revoked or revised.
This is after Zuma’s legal team strongly objected to the trial and special plea application not being heard physically.
Koen further requested a list of considerations and prejudices from all parties involved – including Zuma’s lawyers, the NPA and the Department of Correctional Services – in which they consider relevant to the judge’s decision to hold the Zuma’s special plea arguments on a virtual platform.
“The list of considerations and prejudices must be compiled with reference to the circumstances that will prevail or are anticipated to prevail as from 9 August 2021.”
The list must be submitted to the judge’s registrar via email by 2 August and it must also be sent to the head of Estcourt Correctional Centre in KwaZulu-Natal, where Zuma is currently serving a 15-month jail sentence.
During his last court appearance in May, Zuma pleaded not guilty and his legal team filed a special plea application to have Downer recused from prosecuting the case.
Zuma’s legal team said Downer smeared their client’s name and leaked information related to the corruption case to the media.
The former president wants to be acquitted of all charges should his application for Downer to recuse himself succeed.
The NPA has since denied the allegations made against Downer.