Zuma addresses concerns over mounting legal fees
Publish date: 07 January 2019
Issue Number: 805
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa
Although insisting it is important to respect the decisions of the courts, former President Jacob Zuma has nevertheless questioned the recent Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) ruling – which he is expected to appeal – ordering him to pay the state back all the money used defending corruption charges, notes Legalbrief. The fees have been estimated at anything between R15 and R32m. In a two-part video posted on Twitter, Zuma asked why there was no consistency when it came to the funding of the court battles of state officials. ‘What I would like to make clear is that all of us as citizens of this democratic country must all respect the judgments by the courts at whatever level because these judgments ... are taken by people who have given thorough thought, balanced the facts.' But, he suggested, according to a report on the IoL site, judgments should be examined to establish 'whether we are consistent in our country in terms of applying the law'. He added: 'I'm saying this because many of the leaders who were in charge of apartheid systems, some of whom killed my comrades, they were charged and they are quite a number of them. The state paid for their cases, not just small amounts, very huge amounts. But the very same state is saying me, one among those who fought for this very democratic state, I must pay for myself. So apartheid killers, they must be defended by the state – fighters of the democratic country must pay for themselves.’
Meanwhile, the DA aims to thwart Zuma's plans to appeal. The party is preparing to go to court to seek an order that will prevent Zuma from using more taxpayers’ money for his legal battles. According to TimesLIVE, the party said its lawyers had been informed that Zuma would seek leave to appeal. ‘We will be launching an application in terms of section 18 of the Superior Courts Act, read with Uniform Rule 49 (11), to have the High Court judgment take immediate effect to prevent any more taxpayer money being squandered on Zuma’s frivolous legal appeals,’ said the party’s federal chair, James Selfe. He said the DA was of the view that the High Court judgment needed to remain in effect, irrespective of any appeals Zuma might launch. ‘This application for leave to appeal is clearly designed to delay and undermine the court’s judgment and to once again have the state pay for Zuma’s legal fees. This should and must not be allowed. While Zuma is free to seek leave to appeal any court judgment, he cannot do so using public funds,’ Selfe said. Selfe said Zuma must be stopped from evading accountability, especially since he was attempting to use state funds on endless appeals. A City Press report notes the DA is also considering asking that Zuma cough up for security for costs. In 2009, when the DA launched an application to review the decision to drop corruption charges against Zuma, ‘he demanded that we pay an amount of R1m into a trust account in case we lose’, said Selfe. Now, the DA will demand that Zuma provide security for its costs should he decide to proceed with an appeal against this judgment.