Zuma corruption case hearing postponed for health assessment

The hearing in former president Jacob Zuma’s corruption and racketeering trial is to be postponed until 20 September by consent between his legal team and the state.

The matter had been scheduled to be heard on Thursday 9 September, after a previous postponement because the 79-year-old had been admitted to hospital for a medical procedure. This was outside the correctional centre in KwaZulu-Natal where Zuma had been serving a 15-month sentence for contempt relating to a separate matter.

The court had earlier secured an agreement with the prosecution and Zuma’s lawyers that his medical team would submit a report on his condition and that the state would be allowed to appoint its own doctors to examine him.

However, last week Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi said the former president was not willing to allow the second medical examination to take place and slammed the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for undermining Zuma’s integrity.

Zuma and French arms company Thales (then Thint) are charged with corruption and racketeering over bribes paid to Zuma in the 1990s for protection by the company and his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik

Shaik was jailed for 15 years for his role in the payments made when Zuma was KwaZulu-Natal member of the executive council for economic development. Zuma was charged over the payments, but the case was withdrawn and eventually reinstated in 2018.

On Sunday evening, Zuma was released on medical parole by the department of correctional services following the receipt of a report from his South African Medical Health Services (SAMHS) doctors on his condition.

It is not clear at this stage what impact the former president’s health will have on the trial proceedings, which are set to finally get underway once an application for the removal of prosecutor advocate Billy Downer is heard.

NPA spokesperson advocate Mthunzi Mhaga confirmed that the matter would be postponed.

“We confirm that the special plea hearing relating to Mr Zuma’s case will be postponed virtually by consent of all the parties to 20 and 21 September to enable the state-appointed medical specialist to consider the medical evidence in cooperation with Mr Zuma’s medical team,” Mhaga said.

“In view of the medical reports being confidential no further comment will be issued as all issues relating thereto will be ventilated in court at the next hearing.”

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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