Court delays trial of South Africa’s Zuma by six months

Jacob Zuma
South Africa President, Jacob Zuma. AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

Former South African leader, Jacob Zuma, dubbed the “teflon president’’ because of his ability to weather scandal after scandal, has again delayed his corruption trial, after his lawyers submitted a permanent stay of prosecution.

The courts will now have to decide whether he should stand trial and criminal proceedings have been postponed until May 20.

As with his previous, brief court appearances, the ex-president’s supporters were crowded outside, where an upbeat Mr Zuma addressed them on what he depicted as his victimisation.

He also broke into song as he had wanted, singing in Zulu about how “I’m wounded by the same men I grew up with,’’ according to translations in local media.

The court is hearing arguments in a long-running legal saga that dates back to 1999 over alleged kickbacks in a multibillion-dollar arms deal with a French company, Thales, which Mr Zuma oversaw as vice president.

In 2007, Mr Zuma was charged with 16 counts of racketeering, corruption, money laundering and fraud.

The charges relating to 783 payments in connection with Thales were dropped before he assumed the presidency in 2009.

After years of legal challenges, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decided Mr Zuma must face trial.

He was forced to resign as president under pressure from his African National Congress (ANC) party earlier this year.

Mr Zuma has long claimed that the charges against him are politically motivated and cooked up by a faction within the ANC that supported former president, Thabo Mbeki.

(dpa/NAN)

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