Former President Jacob Zuma has had another legal setback on Tuesday 13 April, with the Supreme Court of Appeals dismissing his appeal against a previous ruling ordering him to pay his own legal costs, which amount to around R16 million. 

The High Court in Bloemfontein said that the State is in no way liable for the costs of the judgement levelled against Zuma in 2018, saying that the submission had been made in his personal capacity. 

Zuma must ‘pay back the money’

Judge Aubrey Ledwaba said in his ruling that the public should not bear the burden of responsibility for funding the defences of those accused of wide-scale state looting. 

“It is in the public interest that charges relating to the abuse of public office, corruption and fraud are prosecuted to ensure public accountability, the promotion of good governance, the protection of the rule of law and advancement of the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights,” he said. 

If the state is burdened with the high legal costs of these public office bearers who are charged with such crimes, the taxpayer bears the burden.”

He said that these particular charges of corruption are certainly not for the taxpayer to fund. 

“Poor communities also continue to be denied access to essential services, as the state’s resources are being diverted to funding the defences of public office bearers charged with such crimes, in this instance financially litigated on a most luxurious scale.”

DA welcome ruling  

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomed the ruling by the SCA, saying that the opposition party “takes strong exception to any abuse of public funds by current or former public officials, including former Presidents”. 

“The DA previously obtained an order to this effect from the High Court, which Mr. Zuma then took to the SCA on appeal. Today’s judgment dismissed Mr. Zuma’s appeal and confirms that the State Attorney is only obliged to act if it is in the Government’s or the public’s interest to do so. This was Mr. Zuma’s personal legal battle and he had no right to fund it with tax-payer money,” said leader John Steenhuisen. 

“Mr. Zuma’s tenure in office was disastrous for South Africa, its economy, and our hard-won democracy,” he continued. 

“We are still reeling from the effects of State Capture and the hollowing out of public institutions that accompanied it. This a victory not for the DA alone, but for all South Africans, our Constitution and the Rule of Law.”

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Presh JM Reporter

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