Zuma’s arms deal case back in court – here’s what to expect

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The corruption case against former president Jacob Zuma is back in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday, 23 February 2021.

Zuma and French arms manufacturer face a string of charges including corruption, fraud and racketeering. The former president will however not be attending the court proceedings as it will mainly be a process between the presiding judge and legal teams.

The proceedings which will unfold will likely clear the path for the trial to get underway as the parties have to resolve outstanding pre-trial matters.

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It all comes after the Jacob Zuma Foundation said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was far from ready to proceed with the case. The NPA was quick to dismiss the foundation’s claims.

“It is not true that the state versus Zuma and Thales has been postponed. The matter is scheduled for the 23rd of February. As you know that the court had postponed the matter from November to February, at the time it was to allow Thales to challenge the racketeering charges. After they lost, they then indicated that they’re not going to appeal. And therefore, the matter is scheduled for Tuesday. And in fact, there has been a suggested date between the state (and) Thales in terms of their availability, which is May,” said NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema.

Arms deal case: What is Zuma accused of?

Zuma is alleged to have received 783 suspicious payments to the tune of R1.2 million from his former financial advisor Shabir Shaik. This is in relation to the multibillion rand arms deal in 1999. Zuma has denied the allegations and claims they are politically motivated.

Thales had sought to have the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), to drop the racketeering charges against it, as it believes there is no evidence of such. However the same court dismissed the application with costs in January.

Zuma’s life, post-presidency, has been characterised by endless court appearances and legal battles – including in his personal life. The former president could soon find himself in jail after he defied an order by the Constitutional Court, compelling him to appear before the State Capture Commission. The commission has since asked the apex court to impose a two year jail term on Zuma.

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