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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

NPA concerned by Zuma’s ‘intimidating and delaying’ tactics in arms deal corruption trial

Zuma’s lawyers will apply for another postponement because ‘conditions for a fair trial are non-existent’

As Jacob Zuma and French arms company Thales return to the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday, which is supposed to be the start of the arms deal trial, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said it is concerned by the former president’s delaying tactics.

This comes after the Jacob Zuma Foundation on Sunday said Zuma’s lawyers will be applying for a postponement because the ‘conditions for a fair trial are non-existent’.

The foundation said the matter will likely end up in the Constitutional Court and a forced trial would prejudice the former president. 

Zuma – who turns 80 on Tuesday – and Thales face several charges including fraud, racketeering and money laundering linked to the multibillion-rand arms deal.

When Judge Piet Koen dismissed Zuma’s application for leave to appeal, he ordered that the trial proceed on Monday.

Koen said the prosecution had already been delayed.

Delaying tactics

While the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed a second application for leave to appeal by Zuma, the former president is now trying to get Judge President Mandisa Maya to intervene and is filing a reconsideration application.

The NPA said it is ready to proceed with the trial but Zuma’s legal team’s delaying tactics continue to stall the proceedings.

“On 11 April 2022 we will oppose any application for a postponement because any further delay is not in the best interests of any party,” the NPA said.

Meanwhile, the Jacob Zuma Foundation also announced that Zuma will seek private prosecution against state prosecutor Advocate Billy Downer in his trial.

Zuma and Downer have been embroiled in a bitter battle, with the former president wanting the state prosecutor removed alleging that he compromised himself by leaking sensitive information about Zuma’s corruption trial.

ALSO READ: Jacob Zuma to seek private prosecution against Billy Downer

Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi said the NPA has been dragging its feet, making all kinds of excuses for its lack of progress in investigating Downer and the others for the alleged breaches.

However, the NPA hit back saying the move is just another delaying tactic.

“With regards to the possible private prosecution against Advocate Downer SC, we view that as another intimidating and delaying tactic on their part. They know those charges cannot be substantiated hence the DPP KwaZulu-Natal declined to prosecute in the matter and the NDPP refused to accede to their request for the removal of Advocate Downer,” said NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga.

The Jacob Zuma Foundation also indicated that Zuma’s legal team will be responding to the supplementary affidavit served by the NPA where they seek to introduce new evidence.

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