Durban - Former president Jacob Zuma arrived at the Durban High Court with little fanfare on Friday to answer to charges of fraud and corruption.
Members of the State's prosecuting team and some of Jacob Zuma's legal team could be seen in discussions ahead of court proceedings. Named as accused number one in the State’s indictment, the former president is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud in a case that stretches back to the so-called arms-deal, finalised in 1999.
Accused number two – arms manufacturer Thales - is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption and one count of money laundering.
On Thursday, Thales made representations to the NPA to have charges against the company dropped.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has alleged there was an illegal “common purpose” relationship between Zuma, his convicted financial advisor Shabir Shaik and Thales South Africa (Pty) Ltd to pay and accept bribes for “political protection”.
Zuma held several high-ranking offices in the provincial and national executive and in the ANC at the times of the alleged bribes. But he has been consistent in maintaining his innocence, while also stating that he wants to clear his name in court.
Zuma supporters, among them a number of organisations such as Black First Land First (BLF), Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), the National Funeral Practitioners Association of South Africa, various bodies under the National Interfaith Churches of South Africa (NICSA) and the Commission for Religious Affairs (CRA), have been rallying to support Zuma outside the high court on Friday.
Many claim he is being “persecuted” because he is and was pro-poor during his almost 10-year term and took a stand against a western capitalist agenda.
Friday’s appearance is expected to be a quick one as Zuma is likely to seek a postponement after NPA head Shaun Abrahams on Monday declined his request for a temporary stay of prosecution.
African News Agency/ANA