Pietermaritzburg - Former President Jacob Zuma’s bid to halt his prosecution for alleged corruption emanating from the arms acquisition of the early 90s begins on Monday at the Pietermaritzburg High Court and it will run for four days.
Zuma is facing 18 charges for allegedly receiving bribe money from Thales via his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.
The case relates to the country’s contentious arms deal, in which Thales secured a multi-billion rand contract to supply combat systems for the South African navy.
Here is what you need to know about the history of the epic legal fight between Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA):
Zuma was first charged in 2007
Shortly after he was sacked as the country’s deputy president in June 2005 following the conviction of Shaik, there was speculation that Zuma would be charged for corruption.
Instead, he was charged in December 2007, shortly after winning the ANC presidency against Thabo Mbeki.
The charges were later dropped by Advocate Mokotedi Mpshe in April 2009, citing political interference and manipulation.
The DA fought to have the charges reinstated
After court victories starting with being granted access to the so called spy tapes that were used by Mpshe, the DA fought another long battle to have the charges to be brought back and in March last year, he was charged again. This was shortly after being forced out of office by the ANC.
The matter will be heard by three judges
According to Nathi Mncube, the spokesperson of the Office of the Chief Justice, three judges will hear the application to have the case struck off the roll and the three judges are Judge Jerome Mnguni, Judge Jan Steyn and Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati.
Mncube said in terms of case flow management principles that are applied in all divisions of the High Court, a judge who case manages a matter rarely presides over the same matter, hence Deputy Judge President Mjabuliseni Madondo could not hear the matter.
Both Zuma and Thales denies the accusations and want the prosecution to be stopped
Zuma’s bid to halt the prosecution will be joined by Thales, the French arms manufacturer accused of bribing him.
Thales spokesperson Cédric Leurquin said the delays were not caused by company and it believes it won’t get a fair trial.
"Bearing in mind the very long delay of this procedure – through no fault of Thales at all – together with a range of factors beyond its control, Thales believes it cannot obtain a fair trial, as it is entitled to under the South-African Constitution and international law.
"Thales reiterates that it has no knowledge of any transgressions having been committed by any of its employees in relation to the awarding of the contract for the combat systems for South Africa's corvettes (the Arms Deal in 1999),” he said.
No Night Vigil this time around
Unlike during his previous court appearances, this time around supporters of Zuma will not have a night vigil, instead they will be having a prayer on Monday in Pietermaritzburg which will be attended by his supporters and African National Congress (ANC) members from the Moses Mabhida region.
The organiser of Support for Zuma, Bishop Vusi Dube, an incoming ANC member of the provincial legislature, said on Monday, they will have a march before the proceedings start.
“We will march from Dales Park to Freedom Park and camp there for the whole day while proceedings are going on. We expect Zuma to come to address us during the lunch break around 1pm and give us an update of what will has happened in court,” Dube told Independent Media.