Yet more hurdles before Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial starts
Durban - The one-and-off corruption trial of former president Jacob Zuma and French arms manufacturer Thales faces three new hurdles which should be cleared before it goes ahead in February as anticipated by the State.
The hurdles emerged out of a statement issued by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Tuesday shortly after the Pietermaritzburg High Court postponed the pre-trial hearing to December 8.
In this case, Zuma is accused of pocketing millions in bribes from Thales which were allegedly channelled through a business owned by Schabir Shaik, a Durban businessperson who in 2005 was sentenced to 15 years for almost similar offences.
The bribes were allegedly paid to Zuma to secure some lucrative contracts for Thales in the late 1990s when the new democratic ANC government spent billions to buy arms to modernise the South African military on three fronts – land, air and sea.
Zuma has repeatedly denied the charges and said his prosecution is part of a political plot to persecute him. A few days before the matter returned for another hearing which was clear that it was going to be another postponement, all parties agreed not to be present in the high court.
Tuesday’s postponement was announced in the absence of Zuma and his lawyers, prosecutors from the NPA, Thales lawyers and its representative from France. Prior to the hearing, all parties agreed that they should not swarm the court as it was pretty clear the case would be postponed just like it happened in June.
In a statement issued by Natasha Kara, NPA KZN spokesperson, the decision to postpone was because the French arms dealer wants the racketeering charges to be set aside.
“By agreement, all parties have committed to the provisional postponement of the matter for the resolution of pre-trial management issues namely: 1. Thales’ application for review (to set aside racketeering charges preferred against it). 2. Thales’ application for further particulars from the State. 3. Further clarity on the resumption of international travel under the Covid-19 restrictions which affects witnesses and Thales’ representative, from abroad,” Kara said.
Thales’ decision to challenge the racketeering charges was the reason why the case was previously postponed.
While on Monday Thales said it does not comment on ongoing court cases against it, Independent Media understands that its case against the NPA will be heard on October 27.