Former President Jacob Zuma, who has said he is so short of cash that he has to sell clothing to pay his lawyers, lost his latest bid to challenge a court order to repay more than R16m spent by the state on his attempts to avoid trial on corruption charges.

This, says a Business Day report, could mean that Zuma eventually uses services provided by Legal Aid SA.

Three judges of the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria), led by Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba, dismissed Zuma’s plea for leave to appeal against their finding that he was not entitled to state funding of his defence costs.

Zuma is awaiting a ruling on his application for a stay of prosecution in the case related to the arms procurement deal of the 1990s, in which he has been accused of taking bribes from French defence company Thales.

Zuma’s lawyers are expected to petition the SCA for leave to appeal against the High Court’s decision to order the State Attorney to ‘take all necessary steps, including the institution of civil proceedings’ to recover all the taxpayers’ money spent on Zuma’s corruption trial costs.

This could result in Zuma’s pension being attached, or the seizure of his assets, says the report. The former President’s lawyers have also petitioned the SCA for leave to challenge an estimated R10m personal costs order granted against him, after he conducted fruitless attempts to challenge the state capture report of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

None of this has blocked the state from funding Zuma’s legal costs at the state capture inquiry, where his lawyers are now at loggerheads with officials over whether the former President will give evidence next month.

Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko reportedly told Business Day that Zuma ‘applied for state funding for the Zondo Commission and it was approved by the State Attorney’.

DA federal executive chair James Selfe called that decision ‘inexplicable if not unlawful’.

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