Jacob Zuma north west agridelight

(Photo by STRINGER / POOL / AFP)

Confirmed – Jacob Zuma’s arrest warrant issued: So what happens next?

Jacob Zuma’s trial has plodded along for the best part of two years. On Tuesday, it exploded into life. Here’s what happens now he faces an arrest warrant.

Jacob Zuma north west agridelight

(Photo by STRINGER / POOL / AFP)

It’s only fitting that the Jacob Zuma arms deal case would eventually take an explosive turn. The former president has had an arrest warrant issued against him, after the case was postponed for a further three months. If he doesn’t comply with the Pietermaritzburg High Court’s ruling, he will eventually be detained.

The volatile atmosphere in the KZN courtroom culminated when both the state and the 77-year-old’s defence lawyers clashed. Seemingly at the end of their tether with Zuma’s alleged “delaying tactics”, the prosecution made a drastic move – and it got Judge Pillay’s approval. Here’s what you need to know:

Why Jacob Zuma is facing an arrest warrant?

This is the second time he has missed a sitting of his corruption trial within the last three months. Zuma’s illness – which has been kept under wraps since the end of last year – also kept him away from the State Capture Inquiry: He’s avoided a grilling twice there, as well. The state have cried foul, suggesting that the defence has not provided adequate evidence to prove JZ is really suffering.

Arguments for the arrest warrant

State lawyer Billy Downer has argued that the persistent absences Jacob Zuma has registered at this trial – citing illness since November – comes with no solid medical proof. He slammed a letter which was submitted to the court this week, explaining that Msholozi would miss the resumption of the trial.

Alongside fellow prosecutor Wim Trengrove, Downer argued that the document lacked authenticity and possessed nothing “official”. He claims key dates and signatures were missing from the paperwork. The frustrated pair say that Zuma is actually committing a criminal offence by skipping his scheduled appearance, and therefore, the court must compell him to the dock through an arrest warrant.

Arguments against the arrest warrant:

Advocate Dan Mantsha has gone into bat for the apparently-ailing JZ. The defence lawyer slammed the move to issue an arrest warrant as ‘grandstanding’.

He then presented a document from a military hospital which further explained the treatment Zuma had been receiving. The state, however, says this raised more questions rather than answers. Mantsha went on, blasting the application for “bringing the court into disrepute”.

Jacob Zuma arrest warrant: What happens now?

Well, we can tell you that the cops won’t be banging down the doors of Nkandla on Tuesday. The arrest warrant is only effective from Wednesday 6 May – when the postponed trial resumes. Essentially, Jacob Zuma has three months to prove he was suffering from an illness. If he fails to show up in court on this date, the authorities will then be given permission to slap a pair of handcuffs on the former president.