Jacob Zuma's arrest warrant cancelled

Former President Jacob Zuma's lawyer has provided sufficient evidence showing he was ill in February when he failed to appear in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in connection with the arms deal scandal.

FILE: Former President Jacob Zuma addressing his supporters outside the state capture commission on 19 July 2019. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - The warrant of arrest against former President Jacob Zuma has been cancelled by Judge Kate Pillay in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

Zuma and French arms company Thales are appearing in the court on charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering linked to the multi-billion rand arms deal.

The former statesman’s lawyer Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane has offered a letter to the court confirming that Zuma was ill when he failed to show up in court in February.

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The State has not challenged the authenticity of the letter, allowing the court to lift the arrest warrant.

In a surprise move, Sikhakhane also called for the case to be struck off the roll as the State requested more time in the matter after raising concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic might negatively affect the trial if it starts before October.

But Judge Pillay quickly rejected that call, saying that the State had confirmed that it was ready to go to trial. Pillay added that given the age of the former president, it would be in the interest of the law for the trial to start and conclude as soon as possible.

The case has now been postponed to 8 September where a trial date may be established.

Zuma's legal team said that it was happy about today's court outcome.

His lawyer Eric Mabuza: "We're quite happy because we were able to pin the State to a date in September. Remember, they wanted to postpone to October, thereby granting them another postponement to next year but we've now pinned them to 8 September."

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