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Former president Jacob Zuma is set to officially begin his corruption trial on 23 February 2021. A postponement from this week was granted by Judge Nompumelelo Radebe at the Pietermaritzburg high court on Tuesday.
The trial has been postponed throughout the years and there has been a back and forth between the court, Zuma’s representatives and Thale’s legal counsel for the past 17 years. The postponements have been due to the availability of the erstwhile president as he was heavily tied up in presidential duties during his nine-year tenure. In addition, Thales has requested more evidence to adequately prepare for the trial.
At Tuesday’s court appearance, Zuma and Thales were not present. They had been granted permission by the court to not attend. Radebe said some outstanding documents such as the certification of the trial letter, a request for further particulars, as well as clarity on the restrictions on international travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic were pertinent.
Zuma is on trial for sixteen charges related to bribes he received from Thales through his former financial adviser‚ Schabir Shaik. Zuma was allegedly paid R500,000 a year to facilitate multi-million rand contracts. The beleaguered leader has maintained he is the victim of a politically-motivated conspiracy and that the charges are trumped up.
Through the Jacob Zuma Foundation, a statement was released accusing the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of delaying the trial.
The JG Zuma Foundation said: “It is extremely prejudicial to president Zuma for the prosecution to again fail to proceed with their prosecution when they have repeatedly claimed they have a case against president Zuma and are ready to proceed with it.
“We call upon our society, regardless of their position on [former] president Zuma to demand more fairness and justice in our courts. The NPA’s ‘hide and seek’ tactics must be exposed and the real beneficiaries in the arms deal must be exposed.”
“In December 2019, the NPA stated in court it was ready to proceed with the case and now in December 2020, after requesting another three postponements, they are still not ready to proceed with their case, making new excuses.”
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