Both the DA and the EFF took this matter on review separately, but the High Court made a joint order. Importantly, there was a specific request for the full disclosure of amounts paid by the State towards Mr Zuma’s personal legal costs. To date, the full amount remains undisclosed. This, despite various requests to the Presidency, the State Attorney and Mr Zuma. The High Court ordered the State Attorney to give a full and complete account of all legal costs paid by the State that were incurred by Mr Zuma in his personal capacity. 

The State Attorney is ordered to take all necessary measures to recover such amounts, and must report back to the High Court within three months on steps taken – and those still to be taken – to recover the amounts from Mr Zuma.

This judgment confirms the constitutional principle of accountability. It further sends out a clear message to public officials – the State is not a cash cow to finance lavish criminal defence litigation. The High Court further emphasised that valuable State resources cannot be squandered recklessly, while the most vulnerable in our society are denied access to essential services. 

By Ms Christine Botha: Acting Director, Centre for Constitutional Rights
13 December 2018