Former President Jacob Zuma will go into battle in May to avoid spending about a quarter of a century behind bars for alleged corruption without two of his leading criminal advocates.

Business Day says it has established that neither senior Advocate Mike Hellens nor Advocate Dawie Joubert will continue acting for Zuma in his battle with the NPA for a permanent stay of prosecution to avoid corruption charges linked to the arms deal of the 1990s.

The report says Zuma has been struggling to maintain his expensive team of lawyers since losing access to state funding. He fired his long-term confidant and attorney Michael Hulley in July 2018.

Hellens reportedly referred all questions to Zuma’s attorney Daniel Mantsha, who declined to comment on the reasons for the exit of the two advocates.

We are focusing on preparations for the hearing of the former President’s permanent stay of prosecution application,’ he said, adding that Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane would continue to lead Zuma’s team.

The Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) ruled in December that an agreement for the state to cover Zuma’s legal costs was invalid, and ordered him to repay millions of taxpayer money used to fight his corruption charges for more than a decade.

The former President has also taken issue with the state hiring some of SA’s most high-profile lawyers to argue its case against him. The NPA’s team includes Advocates Wim Trengove, Andrew Breytenbach and Gilbert Marcus.

Zuma is also challenging the termination of his legal funding by the state at the SCA.

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