Former President Jacob Zuma’s lawyers say it’s irrelevant whether he is guilty of corruption, but rather whether, in light of the NPA's ‘irregular, unfair, unlawful and unconstitutional conduct’, he can still receive a fair trial. A Business Day report notes Zuma’s legal team has filed his final arguments in his application for a permanent stay of his corruption prosecution – his last chance to stop his long-dormant trial from proceeding.

‘Zuma seeks this extraordinary remedy on account of the inordinate delay, trial prejudice and the flagrant abuse of power by the NPA ... the effect of which has been the violation of Zuma’s constitutional rights, in particular the right to a fair trial,’ his lawyers state. While the NPA admits it was responsible for a 22-month delay in Zuma’s trial, Zuma’s lawyers argue that the state is actually to blame for a decade-long pause in his trial.

Effectively, they argue, the NPA must be put on trial for the way it mishandled the case against Zuma.

Lead Zuma prosecutor Billy Downer has vehemently denied the prosecution had been fatally compromised by questionable NPA decisions and undue delay. Downer has also asked the KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg) to strike out more than a dozen ‘scandalous and vexatious’ and ‘untrue and unwarranted’ statements Zuma made in his application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

First, without any substantiation, Zuma alleges that I hate him … I am blinded by an obsession with his conviction … I seem nostalgic about the manner in which apartheid prosecutions authorities deal with those they considered guilty or undesirable … and persons within the NPA may have apartheid withdrawal symptoms,’ Downer states.

He says Zuma’s claims prejudice the state, are completely untrue and defamatory, and should be removed from the court papers.

Full Business Day report