Witness Reporter
3 minute read
20 Apr 2021
06:45

Our viewpoint | Zuma’s legal costs

Witness Reporter

Last week, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein dismissed former president Jacob Zuma’s appeal against a judgment of the Pretoria High Court, which held that the state is not liable for the legal costs incurred by him.

OPINION:


Last week, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein dismissed former president Jacob Zuma’s appeal against a judgment of the Pretoria High Court, which held that the state is not liable for the legal costs incurred by him in his personal capacity.

ALSO READ| Jacob Zuma loses state legal fees appeal bid, must pay back millions

Zuma will have to pay back an estimated R25 million which was used to cover his defence costs. The costs relate to the charges against Zuma in the arms deal matter.

The SCA found there was no legal basis for government to pay for Zuma’s defence in the corruption trial.

Zuma will have to pay back an estimated R25 million which was used to cover his defence costs. The costs relate to the charges against Zuma in the arms deal matter. The SCA found there was no legal basis for government to pay for Zuma’s defence in the corruption trial.

The SCA ruling is on point. Why should taxpayers fork out for Zuma’s defence, especially when the charges are so serious, involving fraud and corruption?

When a person is arrested and taken to court, they can get their own legal representation.

If they can’t afford it, then an application can be made to Legal Aid South Africa for representation. However, legal aid is not automatic. One has to pass a mean’s test before it is granted.

These same rules should apply to Zuma, as a former statesman. According to the Bill of Rights, everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection.

Zuma should not be treated differently. If legal aid is good enough for others then why is it not good enough for the allegedly broke former president?

According to the Bill of Rights, everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection. Zuma should not be treated differently. If legal aid is good enough for others then why is it not good enough for the allegedly broke former president?

Zuma’s trial is expected to start in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on May 17, and continue until June 30.

He is alleged to have received an annual bribe of R500 000 from French arms dealer Thales for protection from an investigation into the controversial arms deal.

The alleged bribe was facilitated by Schabir Shaik, who was Zuma’s former financial adviser.

If the trial exonerates him, he will have recourse. He can look at suing the state for damages or to recover his legal fees.

Zuma has always said he wants his day in court, so let’s get on with it.

Red Witness logo
Write to letters@witness.co.za
The editor reserves the right to edit all contributions. All letters must contain the writer’s full name, address and contact number for record purposes or they will not be published. Well written topical letters under 225 words will take precedence. The Witness does not guarantee to publish all letters.