Judge Chris Nicholson on Wednesday granted the state leave to appeal against the September 12 judgment which invalidated charges brought against ANC president Jacob Zuma.

Nicholson said the case was a complex case and that certain sections of the constitution had never before been argued and “occasioned me much anxious deliberation”.

Earlier in the morning Nicholson said “inclined” to grant the State’s application for leave to appeal his  ruling that its decision to prosecute Zuma was unlawful.

“I would need a lot of persuading that this application should be refused,” Nicholson said as Advocate Wim Trengove was about to start arguing in the Durban High Court in favour of the State.

Court L was packed with journalists straining to hear every word being argued by the two legal teams.

Nicholson ruled last month that the State’s decision to prosecute Zuma was unlawful because the state had failed to take representation from him.

When the judgment became known, thousands celebrated outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court and within weeks Thabo Mbeki had stepped down as president of the country.

Apart from the media packed into Court L there was a small presence of eThekwini metro police on the nearby Margaret Mncadi Avenue (formerly Victoria Embankment).

Zuma himself was not at court as he is out of the country. Advocate Wim Trengove was expected to deliver argument for the State, while Kemp J Kemp would lead Zuma’s opposition to the application .

In its papers filed on September 30, the NPA listed 16 grounds for appealing Nicholson’s September 12 judgment – including that it did not believe that Nicholson had grounds to rule on the establishment of an arms deal inquiry or to comment on then president Thabo Mbeki’s decision to dismiss Zuma as deputy president of the country.

It also opposes Zuma’s claim that he was entitled to representation before being charged.

Zuma faced a charge each of racketeering and money laundering, two charges of corruption and 12 charges of fraud related to the multi-billion rand government arms deal.

He was charged in 2005, but that case was struck from the roll in 2006. He was recharged in December 2007.