Jacob Zuma. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
Jacob Zuma. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s defiance of the public protector’s report on the Nkandla matter was a violation of his duties under the Constitution, the Constitutional Court heard on Tuesday.

Counsel for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), advocate Wim Trengove SC, told the court Mr Zuma had violated his ethical duties in order to "protect his ill-gotten gains" and had "used his position to enrich himself".

The EFF approached the court last year to compel Mr Zuma to comply with the recommendations of the public protector and pay back the money he owed for the undue benefits he and his family had accrued in the upgrades to his Nkandla residence.

Although Mr Zuma last week said he would repay some money, the EFF is demanding that he admit that he breached the Constitution and his oath of office.

Kicking off proceedings on Tuesday, Mr Trengove clarified the findings made by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, the status of her findings and, by midmorning, Mr Zuma’s response to her findings.

He said all organs of state had to assist the public protector to "ensure her dignity and her effectiveness".

He submitted that Mr Zuma had "flagrantly violated" this duty by defying the public protector.

"All of us are bound by the Constitution and have to obey but there is a singular, heightened duty on the president … the president must uphold, defend and respect the Constitution," Mr Trengove said.

Counsel for the Democratic Alliance, the National Assembly, Mr Zuma, the Public Protector and Corruption Watch are set to follow Mr Trengove’s submission.

Ms Madonsela and her deputy, Kevin Malinga, arrived with a host of representatives from her office and were present in court.

The Constitutional Court precinct was a hive of activity from early Tuesday morning as legal teams for the various parties participating in the case packed the court room.

Opposition party leaders who were not directly involved also attended to show their support for the case.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa and members of the Congress of the People were in the public gallery to hear what could be the final word in the long-running Nkandla saga.