Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s legal team has quit less than a month before he’s set to go on trial for alleged corruption.
Zuma’s spokesman Vukile Mathebula confirmed that lawyer Eric Mabuza filed a withdrawal notice with the High Court on Wednesday, but said he was unable to comment on the reasons and that a statement would be issued shortly.
The National Prosecuting Authority has also received notification by Mabuza Attorneys that they would no longer be handling Zuma’s case, and it remains ready to proceed with the trial that’s scheduled to start May 17, spokesman Sipho Ngwema said in a text message.
Zuma stands accused of taking bribes from arms dealers in the 1990s and is facing corruption, racketeering and money-laundering charges. He denies wrongdoing.
The Supreme Court of Appeal last week upheld a High Court ruling that the state shouldn’t be liable for Zuma’s legal fees, and he must pay back more than R15 million ($1 million) dispensed to his lawyers so far.
Mabuza has also represented Zuma in a legal standoff that arose over his refusal to appear before a judicial panel that’s probing graft during his nine-year rule. Judgment is pending from the Constitutional Court on whether the ex-president should be jailed for defying its order to testify.