Former president Jacob Zuma’s special plea arguments in his arms deal corruption trial will now be heard in an open court rather than on a virtual platform, the Jacob G Zuma Foundation has confirmed.
This means that the directive of 15 July, which indicated that the Zuma’s special plea would be heard virtually, has been revoked by the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
However, this directive is subject to change at any stage should circumstances arise which make it desirable to do so.
Zuma’s legal team – advocates Dali Mpofu and Thabani Masuku – had previously objected to the trial and special plea application not being heard physically.
Zuma back in court next week
Last month, Judge Piet Koen – who presided over the proceedings – postponed the trial for three weeks after an application was brought forward by Zuma’s legal team.
Koen had also requested a list of considerations and prejudices from all parties involved – including Zuma’s lawyers, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Department of Correctional Services – which they deem relevant to the judge’s decision to hold the Zuma’s special plea arguments on a virtual platform.
The corruption trial, which involves Zuma and French arms firm company, Thales, is set to resume next Tuesday on 10 August 2021.
The high court is expected to hear Zuma’s special plea for the recusal of the NPA prosecutor, Billy Downer.
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 had 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.