It is unlikely that the former president Jacob Zuma’s arms deal corruption trial will proceed without him being medically fit to testify.
Zuma is still under medical observation at a prison hospital, according to the Department of Corrections Services.
The former statesman is being medically observed by the South African Military Health Services while serving a 15-month jail term at Estcourt Correctional Service Centre for contempt of court.
Zuma’s trial was scheduled for August 10 and 13, 2021, when his special plea will be ruled on.
The Jacob Zuma Foundation confirms Zuma’s trial will not go ahead on Wednesday, and the postponement will be heard virtually on Tuesday, August 10, at 10:00 a.m.
“The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) jointly wrote a letter to Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Hon. Judge Piet Koen in which both parties agreed to postpone the Pietermaritzburg High Court hearing due to Zuma’s prolonged hospitalisation,” said the Foundation.
The arms deal corruption trial was postponed on July 19 following the Foundation concern that the court’s directives to hear the case virtually were inconsistent with the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) and the Constitution.
Zuma’s lawyer, Advocate Dali Mpofu, argued that the case should be heard in person when the country is calmer following the recent widespread violence wreaking havoc in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng.
A firestorm of violence is thought to have erupted following Zuma’s imprisonment.
Mpofu argues that criminal proceedings in any court must be conducted in the presence of the accused, unless otherwise expressly permitted by this CPA or another law.
He quoted Section 35 (c) and (e) of the constitution saying every accused person [Zuma] has a “right to a fair trial, which includes a right to appear before an ordinary court and to be present when being tried”.