Former President Jacob Zuma has been ready for his corruption trial for 14 years, according to his lawyer Thabani Masuku.
However, he said Zuma still wishes to file an appeal against the recent High Court ruling that dismissed his application for a permanent stay of prosecution.
Masuku made the remarks at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday morning. Zuma was present in court along with a few of his supporters.
4 February, 2020 pre-trial date
Advocate Billy Downer, acting for the state, said they were ready to proceed with trial and suggested 30 April as the trial date.
Zuma’s lawyer also said they were ready. The two parties agreed on 4 February, 2020 as the holding date for the pre-trial. The court subsequently adjourned.
In the meantime, Zuma has until 1 November to file his appeal, which will then be heard on 22 November.
On 11 October, the same court dismissed Zuma’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution with costs.
The order was unanimous and handed down by a bench of three judges – Judges Thoba Poyo-Dlwati, Bhekisisa Mnguni and Esther Steyn.
Unlike Zuma’s previous court appearances, a much smaller number of supporters turned up on Tuesday.
Zuma’s corruption charges
Zuma faces 18 charges dating back to 2005. They relate to 783 payments, amounting to around R4 million, he allegedly received from his ex-financial advisor Schabir Shaik and his companies.
The state also alleges that Thales had agreed to pay Zuma an annual amount of R500,000 for “political protection” from investigations relating to the controversial arms deal. Shaik allegedly facilitated the agreement.
During hearings in May this year, Zuma’s lawyers argued that the state’s 15-year delay in bringing the charges against him meant there wouldn’t be a fair trial.
They also argued that there was political interference because the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) allegedly discussed the trial with “political players.”