Payback time – Zuma faces R18.2m legal bill
The State Attorney’s Office has told the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) that Jacob Zuma spent R18 261 347.72 of taxpayer’s money fighting the arms deal-linked corruption case against him – and says it will issue summons to recover that money, if he doesn’t pay it back.
In an affidavit filed on 14 July, Deputy State Attorney Isaac Chowe told the High Court that steps to recover the money ‘will be taken within a reasonable time now that the amount to be recovered has been determined’, writes Karyn Maughan in a report on the News24 site.
In May, the SCA dismissed Zuma’s bid to challenge a December 2018 ruling delivered by a full Bench of the High Court, in which it cut state funding of his corruption trial defence costs and ordered the State Attorney to ‘compile a full and complete accounting’ of what the state had spent on his defence.
The SCA also affirmed the High Court’s order that the State Attorney must ‘take all necessary steps, including the institution of civil proceedings, to recover the amounts paid by the state for Mr Zuma’s legal costs’.
While Zuma had argued that withdrawal of state funding of his legal costs would be a violation of his constitutional rights, the Appeal Court had rejected that argument and found that ‘allowing officials to resist being held accountable, by drawing on state resources to obstruct or delay a prosecution’ subverted the public’s interests.
It further found that Zuma had been given untrammeled state funding for his legal costs in an unlawful ‘blank cheque’ arrangement that it slammed as ‘egregious’.
Chowe has now revealed that the state’s steps to recover the R18.2m ‘will commence by a letter of demand, which is intended to curtail possible legal costs and court processes in the event that the amount demanded is tendered and paid’.
‘If the payment is not made on demand, summons will be issued’.
He said that these recovery steps ‘should be able to commence within a month from date of the delivery of this report.’
Chowe’s report has been served on Zuma’s lawyers, notes the News24 report.
The State Attorney has also provided the High Court with an itemised list of the amounts previously spent by the Presidency on each of the cases that Zuma pursued against the NPA – and says it can provide invoices to back up each of these amounts, if required to do so.
Article disclaimer: While we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide final legal advice as facts and situations will differ from case to case, and therefore specific legal advice should be sought with a lawyer.