WATCH: Jacob Zuma back in court with much bigger crowd and support as he fights for acquittal
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Pietermaritzburg – In an apparent show of force and political clout by former president Jacob Zuma, he returned to the Pietermaritzburg High Court today with a much bigger, vociferous crowd and better resources.
This was evident this morning when the entire high court precinct was locked down by security forces to manage the larger crowd. Unlike at the previous court appearance which appeared to have been hurriedly organised, this time around it was better organised, from the stage to the crowd and observing of Covid-19 regulations.
Much of the crowd which included MK vets who were occasionally seen escorting prominent ANC members inside court, shielding them from the media, people in ANC regalia danced to struggle songs coming out of the public address system on the park across the road from court.
This time around Zuma's attack is not directed at the corruption trial itself, instead he wants Adv Billy Downer to recuse himself from prosecuting him because he 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.
A week ago, Zuma and his prominent supporters had to squeeze themselves on stage and used a faulty public address system mounted on an old truck.
This time around his supporters brought up a proper stage with ample space and a bigger sound system that could be heard from a distance away that engulfed most of the central business district of the town of Pietermaritzburg. The space in front of the stage was properly arranged to accommodate other prominent supporters and the large media contingent following the case.
One of the organisers of the supporters of Zuma, Bishop Vusi Dube who is also an ANC MPL in the KZN Legislature said they wanted to ensure that everything is done in a compliant manner.
"We did not want to get caught off guard and violate Covid-19 regulations. So we decided that everything should be done in advance and in a proper way," Dube said outside court.
One of Zuma's sons, Edward Zuma, refused to divulge why there was better organisation of the supporters and infrastructure this time around.
"I don't want people to know our strength and how we got everything right," he said inside court.
The chairman of RET forces, Nkosentsha Shezi, one of the long time supporters of supporters, said this time around they covered the ground and did a proper mobilisation which saw ANC members loyal to Zuma coming from all over the country and all walks of life.
Despite being booed in the last appearance, KZN ANC chairperson, Sihle Zikalala was spotted in court to support Zuma. Asked while walking in court why he is here, he said he will talk after the court sitting.
Zikalala was among the many prominent supporters of Zuma who was seen in court. Other prominent supporters spotted inside court were eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, KZN PEC member and health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu and former transport minister and ANC youth league leader, Joe Maswanganyi.
As expected, Carl Niehaus, the spokesperson of the MKMVA was also spotted in court and so was former North West Premier, Supra Mahumapelo, suspended ANC secretary general, Ace Magashule and former eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede.
Video: Samkelo Mtshali
From the Zuma family, the former president had the support of his daughter, Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla, her twin brother Duduzane and their half brother Edward and many other family members who could not be identified.
Former President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane Zuma has just arrived at the PMB High Court where his father faces corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering charges related to the multibillion Rand arms deal of 1999. #Zumatrial #Zuma @IOL @IOLPolitics pic.twitter.com/TXbGSaXZWZ— SAMKELO T.L MTSHALI (@Sam_Blaszczy6) May 26, 2021
Preparing for a court matter which was going to centre around him as a protagonist, Downer, the senior prosecutor of the NPA who Zuma wants off the case, claiming he is compromised in many ways; was spotted inside court earlier than everyone else and his attention was focused on a large bundle of court documents.