The warrant of arrest issued against former President Jacob Zuma was cancelled by Judge Kate Pillay in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday.
Zuma and the French arms company, Thales, appeared in court on charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering linked to the multi-billion rand arms deal of 1999.
Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, presenting Zuma, offered a letter to the court confirming that Zuma was ill when he failed to show up in court in February. The State has not challenged the authenticity of the letter, therefore, allowing the court to lift the arrest warrant.
In an unexpected move, Sikhakhane also called for the case to be struck off the roll as the State requested for more time in the matter after raising concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic might negatively affect the trial if it starts before October.
Judge Pillay quickly rejected the 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 been postponed to 8 September when a trial date will be established.
Zuma’s legal team said that it was happy about today’s court outcome.
one of his lawyers, Eric Mabuza, said, “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.”