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ConCourt dismisses Zuma’s appeal of personal cost order – with costs

The constitutional court has struck off the roll former president Jacob Zuma’s application to appeal the personal cost order he incurred in his challenge of the constitutionality of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on state capture.

It was struck off the roll with costs on Thursday after Zuma and his lawyers failed to file heads of argument and the appeal record of the case.

After his counsel missed the deadline to file papers, Zuma also failed to inform the court whether he intended to proceed with the last-ditch application to avoid paying costs estimated to come close to R10 million.

His application was opposed by the Office of the Public Protector, the Economic Freedom Fighters, the Democratic Alliance, the Congress of the People, the United Democratic Movement and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution.

Kameel Premhid, for the EFF, argued that apart from Zuma’s failure to comply with the court’s directives, his application was spurious. Counsel for the other respondents concurred. 

“We are in a strange situation where the applicant for leave to appeal has not complied with this court’s directives. No record of appeal has been filed, and in consequence thereof no heads have been submitted either by the applicant himself and certainly not by the respondents,” said Premhid. 

“However, by the affidavits that have been filed by my client, together with affidavits filed by my learned friends’ clients, the court will be aware that we collectively take the attitude that this application as it stands before the court, is fatally defective and that it should be struck from the roll with costs.”

After a brief adjournment, Acting Chief Justice Sisi Khampepe ruled that the matter was duly struck off the roll with costs, the costs being those of two counsel. 

The court file includes a notice from Kgoroeadira Mudau law firm withdrawing as attorneys of record on April 9. In the same month Zuma parted ways with attorney Eric Mabuza and senior counsel Muzi Sikhakhane, leaving him casting about for new representation to defend him as he goes on trial for corruption related to South Africa’s 1990s arms deal.

On Wednesday, he pleaded not guilty to all 16 charges in the KwaZulu-Natal high court with Dali Mpofu appearing as his new lead counsel.

After Madonsela released her report, State of Capture, in late 2016, Zuma challenged the constitutionality of her directive that he appoint a commission of inquiry to further investigate evidence she found of high-level state corruption.

The North Gauteng high court dismissed the application in 2017, and made a personal and punitive cost order against Zuma. Last year, the supreme court of appeal dismissed his application for leave to appeal the costs order, prompting him to turn to the apex court.

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