/ 12 October 2016

SCA decides Zuma’s lawyers must argue in open court for #SpyTapes appeal

Jacob Zuma closing off the ANC NGC on Sunday.
Jacob Zuma closing off the ANC NGC on Sunday.

The Supreme Court of Appeal was expected to make a ruling on President Jacob Zuma’s application for leave to appeal the spy tapes ruling, but instead it decided that Zuma’s lawyers must argue in open court before a ruling is made.

The SCA veered from normal processes with its decision to hear arguments in open court. Usually, two judges decide on a matter in chambers. On Wednesday, a closed hearing was reportedly held before the decision was made that Zuma’s lawyers should argue before the judges in open court. If successful, the lawyers will be expected to present their application for leave to appeal, and then the merits of the case. In normal circumstances, a court would decide to hear the application, adjourn, and then return to interrogate the merits.

Earlier this year, the Pretoria high court ruled against the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) decision to withdraw charges of fraud and corruption against Zuma in 2009. If the SCA rules against Zuma’s leave to appeal then 783 charges, which include fraud, corruption and racketeering, will be reinstated against Zuma.

The court announced its judgment in June 2016. In August, Zuma filed his answering affidavit to the SCA in Bloemfontein, challenging the Pretoria court’s ruling that he should face charges.

The spy tapes saga has continued to plague Zuma since 2001. It began when prosecutors pursued charges of corruption against Zuma related to the arms deal. Zuma’s financial adviser Shabir Schaik was sent to jail for bribery, and Zuma dismissed the allegations against him. In 2009, the NPA decided not to prosecute on the basis that the prosecution had not followed due process.

It has not yet been announced when open arguments will take place.