South Africa: Zuma to Pay Back the Money - Court's Legal Costs Order Essential 'To Remedy the Abuse of Public Resources'

Former President Jacob Zuma in April 2015.

The punitive costs handed to former president Jacob Zuma by the Supreme Court of Appeal serve as a warning to others who 'make unwarranted allegations that scandalise the court'.

The judgment in former president Jacob Zuma's failed bid to overturn a high court ruling that the state is not liable for his considerable legal fees in his corruption case was handed down by judges Visvanathan Ponnan, Nambitha Dambuza, Tati Makgoka and acting judges Ashton Schippers and Trevor Gorven on 13 April 2021.

The punitive costs, said Ponnan, served "as a mark of displeasure and to vindicate the integrity of the court".

A repayment order of the estimated R15-million bill might "well be essential to remedy the abuse of public resources; vindicate the rule of law; and reaffirm the constitutional principles of accountability and transparency, especially by a former incumbent of the highest office in the land".

Ponnan said that simply setting aside the decision to pay, "without ordering an accounting and repayment, would achieve none of those crucial remedial objectives. This, in any event, is less onerous than if Mr Zuma were asked to repay the amounts on demand as he had undertaken to do"....

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