Zuma Makes Appearance After 12 Days Behind Bars

Former president Jacob Zuma on Monday made his first appearance since his jailing 12 days ago.

The 79-year-old looked neat in a dark suit, white shirt, and red tie. At one stage he took a swig from a water bottle.

The former president was appearing – virtually – before the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where his lawyer Advocate Dali Mpofu argued for a postponement.

Mpofu pleaded with Judge Piet Koen to postpone the matter, saying holding it virtually would limit Zuma’s right to be physically present in court as prescribed by law.

Such an arrangement would not permit consultations, Mpofu said. Besides Zuma would have to consent to such an arrangement.

The former president was not consenting, said his lawyer.

“We have not even been able to consult on this matter,” said Mpofu, adding that until 28 June all the focus was on the Constitutional Court matter that landed Zuma in jail.

He said a postponement of two or three weeks could negate the need for arguments around the virtual appearance.

“If we postponed for a week or two the client might be out of jail,” said Mpofu, who denied employing any delaying tactics.

Advocate Win Trengove for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said because “oral evidence” was not required in support of the special defence, “it is lawful to have the debate on a virtual platform”.

He said Zuma does not ask to give oral evidence and instead asks for the prosecutor Billy Downer’s removal from the matter.

“The defence, in any event, is bad … there is no point in referring anything to oral evidence,” said Trengove.

He said the accused desperately seeks to avoid answering the charges of corruption, fraud, and money laundering.

“A rehash of old complaints dressed up as a special defence … a recycling of old complaints,” said Trengove.

Zuma insists Prosecutor Downer lacks “independence and impartiality” and should be removed from the case.

Advocate Trengove argued that Zuma does not provide any fresh evidence and yet he requests to cross-examine Downer and all NPA witnesses.

There is a demand for an inquisitorial investigation by the court of a conspiracy theory that has been discredited by the SCA in the spy tapes case, said Advocate Trengove.

“This application [postponment] is Stalingrad Season 27 … that is all it is,” Advocate Trengove declared.

Judge Piet Koen adjourned the court hearing and said he will make a ruling on Tuesday morning.