NEWS
23/05/2018 16:57 SAST | Updated 24/05/2018 06:30 SAST

Zuma's Money Woes Leave Him Short Of Advocates In Corruption Case

"I have had to terminate counsel's briefs in the matter because of the uncertainty around [legal] fees."

Former South African president Jacob Zuma appears at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban, South Africa April 6, 2018.
Nic Bothma/Pool via Reuters
Former South African president Jacob Zuma appears at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban, South Africa April 6, 2018.

Former president Jacob Zuma's attorney Michael Hulley has told News24 that he has "terminated" the services of counsel for his upcoming corruption case, pending issues around legal fees.

When asked if he himself had resigned as Zuma's attorney, Hulley responded: "No, I haven't. I have had to terminate counsel's briefs in the matter because of the uncertainty around [legal] fees."

News24 also understands that there was a dispute over who was funding the legal costs, and that NPA boss Shaun Abrahams had been requested to stay the matter until the problem was resolved.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku told News24 that the case would still go ahead on June 8 in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court.

"The State is ready. We can't... [halt] the case.

He said Zuma's legal representatives would have to explain their problem to the court.

The Presidency said on Monday that it would abide by a future ruling of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on the government's provision of legal assistance to Zuma.

Nic Bothma/Pool via Reuters
Former South African president Jacob Zuma appears at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban, South Africa April 6, 2018.

The Democratic Alliance filed papers in the high court in late March, asking it to set aside a 2006 agreement the Presidency had signed over legal costs the former president incurred for his criminal prosecution.

This, after President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that the agreement, signed by Zuma under then-president Thabo Mbeki, formed the basis for the decision to continue paying for Zuma's legal fees in the "spy tapes" matter.

Abrahams announced in March that the NPA would go ahead with the prosecution of Zuma on 16 charges, including corruption, money laundering and racketeering.

Former NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe dropped the charges in 2009, based on the recordings of the so-called "spy tapes", which were presented to him by Zuma's legal team.

The tapes were made up of recordings of telephone conversations between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka, which Zuma's legal team claimed showed political interference in the decision to charge him.

The charges were subsequently withdrawn, just before Zuma was sworn in for his first term as president.

News24