Judge Aubrey Ledwaba has spoken: In his scathing judgement, he lists his reasons why Jacob Zuma must return the total cost of his legal fees.
A landmark judgement in Pretoria has condemned Jacob Zuma to accountability. The former president has been told to pay back the legal fees he put on the taxpayers’ bill, from court cases spanning across the last 13 years.
It’s estimated that Zuma will have to repay R16 million of state money he used to hire top-class defence lawyers, employed to protect him from state capture judgements and corruption probes. However, that fee could be nearer the R50 million mark, following the in-and-out court dates he’s racked up in 2018.
But what swayed the judges to switch off the public funds tap for Msholozi? We’re having a glance at what was said in the court papers, and why the law – which Zuma was once able to navigate so expertly – has looked so unfavourably upon him.
Why Jacob Zuma must now pay back the money
The first thing Judge Aubrey Ledwaba had to establish in his ruling was whether it was in the public interest to allow Jacob Zuma to face prosecution. This was met with a resounding approval, with the judge reasoning that nobody is above the law. He also writes that the decision reflects the best interests of good governance.
Funds can be better used elsewhere
Ledwaba went on record to state that he believes the tens of millions of rand used to prop up Zuma’s defence directly takes money away from poorer communities. He put his foot down, saying that funds were being diverted from those in poverty and that the state has no obligation to bail someone out when they’re facing serious corruption charges.
The judge agrees with the EFF
The DA played a big role in bringing this lawsuit to court, but they were ably assisted by their political rivals in red. Ledwaba even writes in his judgement that “the EFF are correct” when they say Jacob Zuma can still get state-funded assistance, but he must go through the proper channels.
He’s entitled to legal aid, and doesn’t need to run up an eight-figure bill
Effectively, Judge Ledwaba has told him to bin the R250 000-per-day lawyers and do what everyone else has to do: Cough up the money yourself, or apply for legal aid. Seeing as the latter is a human right for all South Africans, Zuma cannot argue he has no means to defend himself:
“Mr Zuma, like every other accused person, has the right to a fair trial. This includes the right to have a state practitioner assigned to him, at state expense. He is entitled to use either legal aid or his own resources.” Judge Aubrey Ledwaba
Legal fees: The judge’s ruling in his own words:
* The state is not liable for legal fees incurred by Jacob Zuma in his own personal capacity.
* The decision to allow state-funding for cases in June 2005, December 2007 and March 2018 have been declared invalid. Legal fees paid for by the state in these instances must be returned.
* The state attorney must now decide how much money Zuma has to pay back, for all of his personal cases.
This news release does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SA-news.
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