Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Jacob Zuma pleads not guilty to 18 corruption charges

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published May 26, 2021

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Pietermaritzburg - Former President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to all the 18 counts of corruption, fraud and money laundering brought against him by the NPA before the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

Also pleading not guilty was Thales, the French arms company accused of bribing Zuma via Schabir Shaik in order to win tenders during the arms acquisition of 1998 and 99.

In a surprise move, Zuma bolstered his legal defence team by bringing in Advocate Dali Mpofu to assist Adv Thabani Masuku SC (senior counsel).

This time around Zuma's attack is not directed at the corruption trial itself, instead he wants Advocate Billy Downer to recuse himself from prosecuting him because Downer allegedly engaged in illegal and unethical conduct in the past.

Should he win this battle, Zuma wants the entire corruption trial to be thrown out as the law says once a case is tainted, it must be dismissed.

Parties agreed that the NPA should be given time to file answering affidavits and have the matter heard around July this year. This is while Zuma’s affidavit on why Downer must recuse himself was read out in court. In part Zuma said Downer is politically compromised as he assisted the DA which brought a court case to revive the corruption trial.

The parties also agreed that despite this, the NPA must formally indict Zuma and read out the charges.

After Downer did that (reading of charges), Judge Piet Koen asked Zuma whether he understood the charges preferred against him and he said yes.

When asked whether he is pleaded guilty or not, he was not pleading guilty to all the charges.

Among the revelations in the charge sheet is that they show that Zuma started receiving bribes from Schabir Shaik in 1995 and that ran until 2005.

In total, the undue benefits amounted to roughly R4.7 million. This allegedly showed that despite that Zuma knowing from as early as 2001 that he he was being investigated by the Scorpions for receiving bribes from Shaik, he continued with the alleged illegal acts.

Charging him with fraud in one of the counts, the NPA alleges that despite receiving benefits amounting to R3.6 million from Schabir Shaik, he misled parliament by declaring that he did not receive any financial sponsorship between 1999 and 2005. That was when he was deputy president to Thabo Mbeki.

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