Former president Jacob Zuma’s lawyers have reportedly filed an application for the postponement of his arms deal corruption trial.
The trial is due to be heard virtually on Monday morning in the Pietermaritzburg High Court. But according to a News24 report, Zuma’s lawyer, Bethuel Thusini, filed an application on Saturday afternoon for the case to be postponed.
Thusini apparently told the court they were seeking a postponement because Zuma “cannot, in the present circumstances, be compelled to have his trial conducted on a virtual platform and/or in his absence”.
The former statesman, who’s currently serving a 15 month jail sentence at Estcourt Correctional Centre in KZN, also wants to testify on the reasons why he should be acquitted of corruption without standing trial.
Zuma and French arms firm company, Thales, will be on trial regarding the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal dating back to the 1990s. Zuma faces 18 charges and 783 counts related to the case, including fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering, while Thales faces four charges.
During his last court appearance in May, Zuma pleaded not guilty and his legal team filed a special plea application to have National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) prosecutor, Billy Downer, recused from prosecuting the case.
His legal team said Downer smeared their client’s name and leaked information related to the corruption case to the media.
Zuma wants to be acquitted of all charges should his application for Downer to recuse himself succeed.
The NPA has denied the allegations made against Downer, with its spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga saying they would oppose the application.
Zuma is currently serving 15 months in jail for contempt after he was sentenced by the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) in June for refusing to adhere to orders to testify before the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.
On Monday, the ConCourt heard his rescission application challenging the sentence meted against him and judgment was reserved in the matter, while he remains behind bars.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe.