Published: Sun, April 08, 2018
Research | By Clarence Powell

Jacob Zuma charged with corruption, linked to 90's arms deal

Jacob Zuma charged with corruption, linked to 90's arms deal

South Africa's former president Jacob Zuma is due to appear in court in Durban to face corruption charges linked to a multibillion-dollar 1990s arms deal that dogged his time in government.

Last month, prosecutions chief Shaun Abrahams - dubbed "Shaun the Sheep" for his loyalty to Zuma during his presidency - ordered that Zuma be charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering. His financial adviser at the time was found guilty of soliciting those bribes in 2005 and Zuma was later sacked as deputy president.

Charges against Zuma relating to the arms deal were filed but then set aside by the NPA shortly before he successfully ran for president in 2009.

Starting a battle on another front, Zuma's lawyers also said that they planned to challenge the decision of the national prosecutors to charge him in this case - a move that could indefinitely postpone the opening of the trial.

Thales, which supplied naval vessels as part of the deal, will also be charged with corruption and company representatives are expected to appear in court alongside Zuma.

On the face of it Mr Zuma is unperturbed by the latest controversy - he is determined to use every legal avenue available to him to fight the corruption charges.

The former president's supporters have reportedly descended on the city to rally for him.

Zuma, who resigned on February 14, says he has done nothing wrong. Upon exiting the court, Zuma told a rapturous crowd of thousands that he would prevail amid this new onslaught of political persecution.

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The absence of Zuma's long-time legal eagle Kemp J Kemp caused some raised eyebrows.

"I want to thank you as I thanked you many years ago".

Hundreds were gathered outside the court sporting t-shirts in support of Zuma and singing and dancing, while members of the clergy held vigorous prayers for the former leader.

"100% Not Guilty", was the slogan on at least one T-shirt worn by a supporter - a 2018 take on the old Zuma slogan "100% Zulu boy".

"Opposition parties, because of their serious lack of politics, don't know how to win debates in Parliament and they are using courts to drive their agenda", he said.

Zuma told supporters he had been betrayed by people he trusts, an apparent reference to Ramaphosa and his supporters who forced Zuma from power.

Mr Zuma appealed the ruling, but the Supreme Court of Appeal in October 2017 upheld the lower court's decision that Mr Zuma should stand trial.

Mr Zuma's remaining supporters argue that he is being targeted for backing a radical economic reform agenda.

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