The Court ordered the state attorney to “take all necessary steps‚ including the institution of civil proceedings”, to recover all the taxpayers’ money already spent on these costs.
Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba on Thursday handed down a 45-page ruling on applications brought by the Economic Freedom Front, Democratic Alliance and other opposition parties to declare that the state was not liable for Zuma’s legal costs.
He ruled that Zuma, “like all other accused persons in South Africa, is thus entitled to be represented by a legal practitioner using his own resources‚ or those offered by the Legal Aid Board.”
The court also ordered Zuma to pay the opposition parties’ legal costs.
Speaking after the ruling‚ DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the party would now consider challenging government’s funding of Zuma’s legal fees at the Zondo inquiry into state capture.
He heralded the ruling as setting a precedent that extended far beyond Zuma‚ and could be used to block state funding for other officials accused of corruption.
Zuma’s attorney Daniel Mantsha did not comment after the decision‚ but indicated it was likely that Zuma’s legal team would seek to challenge the ruling.
The former president’s lawyers are expected to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal to challenge an estimated personal costs order granted against Zuma in his fruitless challenges to the then public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report.
Zuma’s lawyers were adamant that he was entitled to state funding of his corruption trial defence – because he allegedly used his powerful position in government to commit the crimes he was accused of.