Pietermaritzburg High Court has granted former president Jacob Zuma’s application to postpone his special plea to August and invited the lawyers, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Department of Correctional Services to provide a list of any considerations or prejudice which they consider relevant to its decision to hold the proceedings virtually.
Presiding Judge Piet Koen handed down his judgment virtually on Tuesday morning.
“The directive of 15 July 2021, that the hearing of the special plea will proceed by way of virtual hearing shall continue to apply unless revoked or revised as listed below,” he said.
He said the parties and Department of Correctional Services were each invited to provide a list “in point form and not exceeding two pages of double-spaced typing” on why the matter should not be heard virtually.
He said the list must be compiled with reference to the circumstances that were anticipated to prevail from August 9, a day before the matter is set down to be heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
This list of considerations must be sent to the registrar on or before August 2 and should there be any revision, it will be communicated with the parties by August 4.
On Monday, Judge Koen heard submissions from Zuma’s lawyers and the State regarding the former statesman’s argument that his rights would be violated if his corruption trial was heard virtually.
Zuma’s legal team was meant to deal with their application to have State advocate Billy Downer recused on Monday but instead, they have asked for a three-week postponement.
Zuma’s lawyer, advocate Dali Mpofu made a special plea application to postpone the matter until Zuma can appear before the court in person and give oral evidence in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
His plea was labelled, by State advocate Wim Trengove SC, as “merely a ruse” to avoid answering his corruption charges.
Trengove argued that Zuma’s presence online during the court proceedings was appropriate and lawful.
However, Mpofu said that Zuma did not consent to have his special plea heard virtually and that he had the right to a public trial and to be present when being tried.