Former president Jacob Zuma’s bid to appeal the dismissal of his stay of prosecution application is nothing more than a delaying tactic, lawyers representing the State argued in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg.
“We submit this application for leave to appeal’s intended route to [the Supreme Court of Appeal] and then [the Constitutional Court] is about time. It is about delay. It is the supreme irony of this application. We submit these complaints, dressed up as they are, are not constitutional violations,” advocate Andrew Breitenbach SC submitted.
He was scathing in his criticism of Zuma’s application to head to the appeal court, saying the former president had no evidence that his appeal would be successful.
The matter was postponed to November 29 when a decision is expected to be made.
“Mr Zuma has not demonstrated reasonable prospects of success in the legally relevant sense, namely a sound, rational basis showing he has a realistic chance of meeting the very high standard for an application for a stay of prosecution based on prejudice that isn’t trial related,” Breitenbach said.
He added: “His trial-related prejudice is utterly without foundation.”
On October 11, judges Jerome Mnguni, Esther Steyn and Thoba Poyo-Dlwati rejected Zuma’s stance that a stay of prosecution was warranted.
Speaking on Zuma’s behalf earlier in the day, advocate Musi Sikhakhane SC maintained they believed another court would come to a different conclusion in the permanent stay of prosecution application.
He said there were errors of law that another court would consider differently and that the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) indecision caused delays that infringed on Zuma’s rights.
“We accept that the judgment reflects your own reasoning and views on the facts that we placed before you. But what we say is that we raised the following points… that the violations that we raised, that the prejudices that we raised, that have been caused by what we call ‘political interference’, have compromised the integrity of the prosecution.”
The core of Zuma’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution is his allegation that due to an unreasonable delay in the commencement of the proceedings, he can’t have a fair trial.
Zuma is charged along with French arms company Thales with one count of racketeering, 12 of fraud, four of corruption and one of money laundering.
Thales’ stay of prosecution application was also denied.
Sikhakhane said previous National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams used legal principles in error when deciding to prosecute Zuma.
“Once you’ve violated the NPA Act, and once you’ve violated your own independence and oath of office as the NPA, your entire process is tainted. And I’m saying that may be the distinction…”
He also said the court failed to accord appropriate weight to the NPA’s “unlawful” actions in naming Zuma as Schabir Shaik’s co-conspirator.
“The court failed to have regard to the fact that the NPA was, for a period of over 15 years, always advised by its own experts of their unlawful conduct in the handling of Mr Zuma’s prosecution.”
For Thales, advocate Anton Katz SC made a similar argument using case law to substantiate his reasons.
Katz said Abrahams used the Constitution to apply his authority when charging Thales and Zuma. He submitted that Abrahams had to go to legislation first, which gave effect to his powers in order to reinstate the charges.