Zuma case postponed to determine fitness to stand trial

Zuma case postponed to determine fitness to stand trial

The Pietermaritzburg High Court has postponed Jacob Zuma corruption trial to next month, pending the outcome of a medical report from the former president's doctors.

Jacob Zuma Court - AFP

Zuma's special plea application could see state prosecutor Billy Downer recuse himself from the case. 

It was supposed to be heard in open court on Tuesday but was moved to a virtual sitting following the former president's hospitalisation.

The Correctional Services Department confirmed last week that Zuma had been admitted to an outside hospital for medical observation. 

He is currently serving a 15-month jail at an Estcourt prison term for contempt of court. 

READ: ConCourt ‘only waking up now’, says Jacob Zuma Foundation

On Tuesday Zuma's counsel, Advocate Dali Mpofu, asked for a postponement to 9 September and furnished an affidavit from Zuma's doctors to support the request for the postponement.

Mpofu told Judge Piet Koen that they were ready for the special plea application to go ahead on the agreed date. 

"Obviously, the key to all this, my lord, is the medical report so that once the medical report comes out one of two things will happen.

"If it says there is no longer a problem, then we continue as postponed. If it says there is a problem, then of course, again, one of two things will happen either the NPA will accept the report or they will seek to dispute it. If they seek to accept it then we will come back a have now short proceeding like this."

The court heard the state wants its own medical practitioner to examine  Zuma on his fitness to be present in court and stand trial.

The state's Advocate Wim Trengove said it would be in the interest of justice.

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READ: Zuma graft trial set to be postponed due to hospitalisation

Judge Koen made the following order. 

"The matter is postponed to 9 and 10 September 2021. The medical report in respect of Mr Zuma is to be [delivered] by no later than 20 August 2021.

"It is directed that the State may appoint a medical practitioner of its choice to examine Mr Zuma to access his ability to stand trial."

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