Zuma’s health status ‘a matter of national security’

Judge Dhaya Pillay issued the warrant after Daniel Mantsha failed to provide satisfactory proof that Jacob Zuma was a no-show in court because he is sick.

FILE: Former President Jacob Zuma in court on 23 May 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/Eyewitness News.

PIETERMARITZBURG - Jacob Zuma’s lawyer Daniel Mantsha said the former president was being victimised.

Mantsha made the statement on Tuesday after the Pietermaritzburg High Court issued a warrant of arrest for Zuma.

Judge Dhaya Pillay issued the warrant after Mantsha failed to provide satisfactory proof that Zuma was a no-show in court because he is sick.

Zuma and French arms company Thales face charges related to the multi-billion rand arms deal.

Mantsha submitted a sicknote from what he called a military hospital. But the state prosecutor Billy Downer argued that the note did not prove that Zuma was genuinely sick.

Judge Pillay ruled that the note does not substantiate Mantsha’s claims and issued a warrant of arrest for Zuma.

Mantsha said Zuma was being unfairly treated: “He is being persecuted and victimised. This is not about the administration of justice. This is persecution.”

Mantsha said Zuma’s health status could not be divulged because it was a matter of national security.

*RELATED - WATCH: Zuma doesn’t need to return to state capture inquiry, for now

‘WARRANT SENDS STRONG MESSAGE TO ZUMA’

Opposition parties welcomed the Pietermaritzburg High Court's decision to issue a warrant of arrest for Zuma.

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Glynnis Breytenbach applauded this decision, saying it reiterated the notion that all citizens of the country were equal before the law.

“We trust that this warrant sends a strong message to Mr Zuma – that his tricks to evade accountability and justice will not be tolerated. The reality is that he has gone above and beyond and tried every trick in the book to avoid being held accountable for his alleged hand in the arms deal,” Breytenbach said in a statement.

“The Court’s decision today is encouraging as it sends a message to Jacob Zuma and his buddies that no one is above the law and that all those who have had a hand in defrauding the State should have their day in court,” she added.

Pieter Groenewald of the Freedom Front Plus called on Zuma to disclose his medical condition, saying this would assist the public to understand if his reasons for not arriving in court on Tuesday were legitimate.