Let’s not have laws that are uniquely reserved for Jacob Zuma, lawyer argues.. Former president Jacob Zuma’s legal representative has argued that his client has been treated differently from everyone else.
Zuma is appearing before the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Monday in an attempt to appeal Judge Piet Koen’s dismissal of his “special plea” application. In his special plea application, Zuma had sought the removal of lead prosecutor Billy Downer, and his acquittal on corruption charges.
On Monday, Zuma’s lawyer, advocate Dali Mpofu, argued that the procedure adopted in Zuma’s leave to appeal application was “irregular and out of the ordinary” because the judge allowed the State to file an answer to the former president’s case.
“In my experience, I have never seen anything like that,” Mpofu said.
He said the former president was of the “strong view” that the issue of his cases being “treated differently” needed to be addressed.
Mpofu said Zuma had questioned why a procedure that was “unheard of” had been adopted in his case.
“It is not for the first time… he has raised these complaints repeatedly. He is the only person I know – at least again, I might be wrong; there might be others – who have had to spend time in a prison cell without ever having to cross-examine anybody without a particular process… that was a unique situation that was designed just for him. He may be right or wrong in that belief, but it is a belief that causes consternation, to put it mildly.
“Again, I am speaking about my own experience here. I have never seen any person, accused or not accused, in respect of whom the law seemed to be so overeager to summarily deal with him.”
Mpofu said the Constitution stated that everyone was equal before the law.
“If we are equal before the law, let’s be equal before the law. Let’s not have the Zuma law. Let’s not have laws that are uniquely reserved for him,” Mpofu said.
In October 2021, the High Court ruled that Zuma had failed to prove that Downer lacked the “title” to prosecute him.
Zuma had claimed Downer lacked the independence and impartiality to conduct the case lawfully. Judge Koen dismissed the matter and said Zuma’s corruption trial should proceed in April this year.
The former president faces 16 charges relating to 783 payments he allegedly received from his former financial advisor Schabir Shaik, as well as a R500 000-a-year bribe that the State alleges Shaik facilitated for him from French arms company Thales.
Zuma pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, including corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering.
In his judgment, Koen said many of the allegations Zuma raised against Downer were based on speculation and suspicion or were inadmissible hearsay. He said it was not based on facts.
The former president had accused Downer of turning his criminal case into “a personal legacy project of his own”.
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