Durban – Former president Jacob Zuma still insists that the conduct of two former prosecuting heads, advocates Bulelani Ngcuka and Vusi Pikoli, was grossly unprofessional and because of this, he should not be prosecuted for alleged corruption.
In a 23-page submission on why the Pietermaritzburg High Court should grant him an application for leave to appeal his corruption case, Zuma’s lawyers said the October 11 ruling against their client handed down by a full bench of judges was “misfocused.”
Zuma filed the papers on Friday, the last day of the stipulated time to appeal.
A full hearing will now be heard on November 22.
By lodging this appeal, Zuma is engaged in three simultaneous court battles as he is also appealing a Durban High Court ruling that compelled him to pay former tourism minister, Derek Hanekom, R500000 for calling him a “known enemy agent.”
On the other front, Zuma is trying to fend off liquidators of VBS Bank who are demanding the R7.3 million they loaned him to pay for non-security upgrades at his Nkandla home.
In the appeal papers filed by his lawyer advocate Dan Mantsha, Zuma argues that in the previous ruling, some of the admissions made by the National Prosecuting Authority on how it had handled his case showed that his rights were violated.
Raising 48 points on why the appeal should be heard, Zuma, through Mantsha, said when it initially dismissed his application, the Pietermaritzburg High Court admitted that there were violations of his rights but still wanted him prosecuted.
He said by so doing, the court ignored all the issues of prejudice he has been raising over the last years about his corruption trial – this includes the fact that the trial has become political and that there are external influences.
“The court erred in ignoring or downplaying the constitutional prejudice suffered by Mr Zuma and elevated a pre-constitutional era principle,” Mantsha said.
He added in the appeal application: “In paragraph 150 of the judgment, the High Court found that the ‘seriousness of the offences that Mr Zuma is facing outweighs any prejudice, which he claims he will suffer if the trial proceeds.’.
“This principle does not reflect the true constitutional position in the South African legal system.” As a result of this, Mantsha highlighted that the High Court had failed to pay due regard to the Constitution and the right to a fair trial. He further argued that it was wrong for the court to say Zuma did not suffer any harm because of the “misconduct” of the NPA.
“The court misfocused on the gist of the application and adopted a sanitised version of facts biased against Mr Zuma and aimed at assisting the NPA’s violation of Mr Zuma’s constitutional right,” he argued.
Mantsha also accused the court of ignoring the gross misconduct by Ngcuka and Pikoli, saying the full bench of the court had failed to address the prejudice Zuma suffered as a result of their conduct.
He argued that the decision by Pikoli to prosecute his client was informed by outside influences – even after his team of prosecutors advised him to wait until the investigation was concluded.
He said the result of Pikoli’s hurried decision to charge his client became evident when the case was struck off the roll in 2006 because the NPA was not ready to prosecute him as it was still gathering evidence.
Zuma makes a return before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry next week.