LISTEN | High court judge adjourns Zuma trial for three weeks


LISTEN | High court judge adjourns Zuma trial for three weeks

Court to decide on Jacob Zuma’s special plea application when his trial resumes on August 10

Former president Jacob Zuma during a previous court appearance.
PLAYING FOR TIME Former president Jacob Zuma during a previous court appearance.

The high court in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday adjourned former president Jacob Zuma’s fraud and corruption trial to August.

This will allow the court time to consider an application by Zuma, that he has a right to attend this part of his trial in person and not via a virtual platform. This part refers to Zuma’s special plea that prosecutor Billy Downer is not suitable, or has “no title”, to prosecute the corruption case.

Judge Piet Koen made this order after hearing arguments on Monday from Zuma’s lawyers, who were seeking a postponement for two to three weeks.

Koen said the state and the department of correctional services were invited to provide a list of any considerations or prejudice, which might result from a virtual hearing. 

The court will rule on that matter on August 10, and thereafter move on to Zuma’s special plea that Downer should be removed. The actual corruption trial is expected to continue three days later.

Listen to the judgment: 

“The trial is adjourned to August 10 to 13 2021 for the adjudication of the issues raised in the special plea,” Koen said on Tuesday.

Koen said the court directive of July 15, that the hearing of the special plea will proceed by way of virtual hearing, will continue to apply unless revoked or revised.

In an application made by his lawyers on Saturday, Zuma had asked that his fraud and corruption trial related to the 1999 arms procurement deal be postponed for three weeks.

Zuma’s lawyers argued on Monday that it would be a breach of his fair trial rights to hear his special plea virtually.

Zuma would present oral evidence as part of this plea, his lawyers said.

With last week’s unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng after his recent arrest for contempt of court, the courts were closed and the judge wrote to the parties to explore the possibility of hearing argument on the special plea via a virtual platform.

However, counsel for the state adv Wim Trengove, on Monday called the postponement application “Stalingrad, Season 27”, and asked the court to dismiss the application for a postponement.