Calm in Pietermaritzburg as Jacob Zuma skips court
Pietermaritzburg – Unlike in the past when former president Jacob appeared before the Pietermaritzburg High Court for his long running corruption trial, on Tuesday morning the provincial capital was calm.
This was as Zuma and his large entourage of security team and supporters were not present. That was in anticipation that the matter would be postponed to May 17 this year.
Zuma is accused of pocketing bribes during the 1998-1999 procurement of arms. He denies the charges against him, saying they are politically motivated.
The bribes, including a R500 000 annual retainer, were allegedly paid by his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, and they came from Thales, a French arms company that scored tenders to supply arms during the arms procurement process.
Inside the court, legal eagles for Zuma and Thales, accused of bribing him, had already assembled. Zuma's team comprised advocate Mpilo Sikhakhane and advocate Rudolph Baloyi.
Thales’ legal team was led by Advocate Barry Roux.
By 7am, Freedom Park, the park opposite the high court was used by people parking their cars while others were seen relaxing.
The large park is normally used by Zuma's supporters to gather while waiting for him to address them. On the day, only a handful of police officers and Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg) security personnel were seen. Within the court precinct, news channels had set up giving their viewers some update about the high profile case.
With the postponement known in advance, the Msunduzi municipality even informed its residents there would be no road closures.