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Zuma wants corruption trial ‘struck off’ as he again takes aim at the state

Former president Jacob Zuma’s foundation on Sunday night took another dig at the state, questioning whether it would ever be ready to go ahead with the corruption case against him.

This after the Jacob G Zuma Foundation complained of another “postponement” in the case — a claim that the National Prosecuting Authority rubbished as “exceedingly disingenuous”.

The case against Zuma and French company Thales was next expected in the Pietermaritzburg high court on Tuesday, February 23.

But in a strongly-worded statement on Sunday — in which several salvos were fired at the NPA — the Jacob G Zuma Foundation said the former president had been informed, without “any reason” being provided, that the state would be ready to proceed with the criminal case on May 17. This, the statement said, was an affront to Zuma’s rights.

“While we as the foundation doubt the bona fides or readiness of the state to ever run this  case, we hope our judiciary will not tolerate any further postponement beyond this date. While these postponements carry on, President Zuma’s rights [are] continuously violated and the narrative that he is guilty continues as the NPA’s propaganda. This is indeed unfortunate.

“We hope that the judiciary will not tolerate any further abuse of the process. Indeed, justice delayed is justice denied and this has been President Zuma’s lived reality and experience of the criminal justice system. We will continue to ask the judiciary to strike this case off until the State is really ready, rather than to parade President Zuma as a criminal. The taxpayers purse is wasted in the process,” the foundation said.

But the NPA was quick to hit back, saying that the trial was never meant to start on Tuesday. In fact, the prosecuting authority said in response to the foundation’s statement, Tuesday was the date when the parties in the case would “resolve outstanding pretrial management issues and agree on a trial date, among other housekeeping issues”.

“The matter was last postponed to February 23 pending the challenge to the racketeering charges by Thales. When Thales lost it’s challenge and decided not to appeal, it paved the way for the trial to proceed in earnest.

The state is ready to start the trial and has indicated its earliest preferred date for trial and Thales has done the same. The actual date of trial will be determined by the court taking into account its court roll and availability of the state and the two defence teams.

“It is exceedingly disingenuous to pretend that the trial was set down for February 23,” the NPA said, adding that the preferred trial date for the state and for Thales was May 17.

TimesLIVE

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