Parties to the case in which former president Jacob Zuma is facing corruption charges, racketeering and fraud have agreed to have the case moved to the 19th of July to allow the prosecution enough time to peruse the voluminous document presented by the defence team, it was learnt on Wednesday.
Zuma is being charged along with French arms company Thales on allegations of racketeering, two counts of corruption and 12 counts of fraud – nine of which are for allegedly making false income tax returns.
According to his legal team, Zuma intends to not only plead not guilty but to move to have the charges against him dismissed. “In the event that my plea to have Mr Downer removed in terms of the criminal procedure act, 51 of 1997, is successful, I am entitled to be acquitted in terms of section 106 (4) of the CPA on the basis that no fair trial may be conducted under the circumstances set out in the plea explanation,” said Zuma in an affidavit that was leaked to the media on Wednesday afternoon.
At the beginning of this trial, which has been long-standing, the case had to be postponed, allowing Zuma and his legal team to submit a special plea in which he demanded that leading prosecutor, Downer, recuse himself from the case as he was implicated in the so-called spy tapes, which indicate that he had an ulterior motive in prosecuting the former president. Downer is highly credited with the downfall of Zuma’s ally and businessman, Schabir Shaik, who was convicted in 2005 ago on similar charges.
After the defence’s submission, that is when Billy Downer requested Judge Piet Koen for time to study the issues that had been raised by the defence team and would be responding on the 2nd of June with the return to court pencilled in for the 19th of July.
In a surprise move, Jacob Zuma has bolstered his defence team with the appearance of popular lawyer and self-proclaimed politician and member of the radical Economic Freedom Fighters, Dali Mpofu. Zuma, after the 11th hour of parting with his legal team just before the trial began, was being represented by advocate Thabani Masuku. Mpofu did confirm that he had been briefed at the beginning of the trial on Wednesday in order to represent Msholozi. Mpofu, who has represented a number of high profile cases, is also the legal representative of beleaguered former Secretary-General of the African National Congress, Ace Magashule in his ongoing power struggle with the mother body. He has since been suspended from his role as the party SG.