Jacob Zuma’s long-awaited trial is expected – beginning – on September 8 in the Pietermaritzburg High Court. Zuma appeared before a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday where the case was postponed again.
The corruption charges against Zuma, which together with the French arms manufacturer Thales are facing charges of corruption, have been over a decade old. Zuma is accused of receiving bribes from the company during South Africa’s controversial arms purchase deal. His first appearance in connection with the charge was already in 2005.
Since then, there has been a long-standing dispute between the state and Zuma’s legal team, which means the matter is still not well under way. Zuma is 78 years old and the case against him has been delayed for almost 15 years now.
In February this year, Zuma did not appear in court because of “illness”. He claimed he was in Cuba for medical treatment, but did not submit supporting documents. The court rejected his sick letter at the time, saying he would have to provide sufficient evidence at his next appearance. The trial date was subsequently postponed to May 6, but was postponed again due to coronavirus security protocols.
On Tuesday, Zuma was in court. Unlike usual, there was little to see from Zuma’s usual crowd of supporters. Access to the court was strictly controlled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a limited number of people were allowed into the courtroom.
Judge Kate Pillay withdrew the warrant for his arrest after a more detailed sick leave note was handed in. The court accepted this document.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) earlier in court documents requested that the case against Zuma only continue next year and advocated the new coronavirus as the main reason. Among other things, the NPA says it hopes the travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic have been relaxed or lifted by next year, which means witnesses and other parties will be able to travel to South Africa for the hearing.