Zuma back in court over arms deal

Former president Jacob Zuma is expected to appear in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on Friday morning, after his case was postponed in April.

The embattled former president appeared in court on one count of racketeering, two counts of corruptions, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud relating to 783 payments he allegedly received in connection with the controversial arms deal.

Zuma appeared alongside Christine Guerrier, vice-president of dispute resolution and litigation for Thales, France.
The charges relate to the controversial arms deal, formally known as the Strategic Defence Procurement Package. It was a multibillion-rand military acquisition project finalised in 1999.

Advocate Billy Downer SC, who was leading the case for State, said at the previous appearance that the State was ready to continue with trial.

Downer is the advocate who successfully prosecuted fraudster Schabir Shaik and former Western Cape top cop Arno Lamoer.
Zuma’s advocate Hoosen Gani agreed to the June 8 adjournment, however, he added that he was not in any agreement with the suggested enrolment of the trial to start on November 12.

After his last appearance, Zuma addressed a large crowd of supporters outside court, telling them he had to defend his name as it had been dragged through the mud.

He said the case had been reinstated for political reasons.

Zuma blames opposition

Zuma also said that 13 years had passed since he last appeared in court for the same charges, and blamed opposition parties for the return to court.

“They don’t say: ‘There are allegations against Zuma.’ They only say: ‘Zuma is corrupt,'” he told the crowd.

Zuma thanked the crowd for supporting him.

He claimed he was innocent, even though he was being treated like a criminal.

“Our country’s Constitution states that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. However, there are some people, even people whom I trusted, who have judged me as guilty already. The truth will be revealed in time.”

News24 reported this week that National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shaun Abrahams had turned down a request by Zuma’s lawyers to stay his corruption matter, pending the resolution of issues around legal fees.

Abrahams said, in a letter written to Zuma’s lawyers on Monday: “I regrettably cannot accede to your request for a ‘stay of proceedings in all criminal and allied matters’.”

NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku confirmed to News24 that Abrahams had turned down the request.

“We confirm that the NDPP (National Director of Public Prosecutions) has written to the legal representatives of the former president advising them that he cannot accede to their request. The matter will appear in court and all the issues relating to the matter will be ventilated in court.”

Source: News24