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Court resumes Zuma’s protracted arms deal trial

Zuma is accused of accepting a R500 000 annual bribe from Thales from 1999 in exchange for protecting the company from investigation.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

A South African court on Tuesday resumed a trial that has dragged out for years over a $2 billion arms deal involving ex-president Jacob Zuma, whose legal team was expected to make a plea to remove the prosecutor.

The trial over the 1990s deal was meant to start in May, after being been repeatedly stalled by legal arguments, but was delayed again by Zuma’s request to replace lead prosecutor Billy Downer, whom he accuses of bias.

On July 7, Zuma was jailed for failing to cooperate with a separate corruption probe, precipitating some of the worst riots and looting the country has witnessed since the end of white minority rule in 1994. More than 300 people were killed and thousands of businesses pillaged and razed.

His jailing was nonetheless seen as a victory for South Africa’s ability to enforce the rule of law, even against powerful politicians. The top court on Friday dismissed a bid by Zuma to overturn that 15-month jail sentence.

Zuma, 79, has been convalescing from an undisclosed illness, and has been allowed to see out the rest of his sentence at home on health grounds. He regards the criminal trial against him as a politically motivated witch hunt.

“I wear the badge of being a political prisoner … (of) the struggle for the freedom of the African,” Zuma said in a statement late on Monday. “Injustice will be defeated.”

Zuma, who was absent on Tuesday at the trial proceedings at the Pietermartizburg High Court, has pleaded not guilty to corruption, money laundering and racketeering related to the acquisition of military hardware that has been mired in accusations of graft. French arms group Thales has also denied wrongdoing.

Zuma is accused of accepting a R500 000 ($33,900) annual bribe from Thales from 1999 in exchange for protecting the company from investigation.

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I am reminded that ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’ To state the obvious, it is in the best interest of the country and that of Mr. Zuma (and by extension) his family to have this case resolved. If, we ultimately find out that he is innocent as he has all along maintained, I can’t imagine the negative effects that defending yourself and your reputation over such a long time has on your physical health not to mention emotional state. Let alone on your family which has to worry everytime they see blue lights in the distance, or the impact on your personal purse and economic welfare. On the other hand, if it turns out that the opposite is true, then one has to wonder if a fair amount of time will be served to make giving the sentence any good to begin with. Or are we to conclude that Mr. Zuma is so ‘terminally ill’ that he is of no use to try again. What’s the point of trying him, if he is going to get a ‘medic(in)al parole’ anyway?

If he wants sympathy its about time he dance around a burning tire or set a school alight or something.

By writing letters he will get nowhere with the anc!! The above does.

This debacle and exercise in deception, patent malfeasance with the associated costs of billions of rands to the economy from riots and looting, not to mention the pathetic circus that has been the Zondo Commission has caused irreparable damage not only to the social structure of South African society and our international reputation, which is tenuous at best but most importantly to offshore investors.

Enough really is enough!

End of comments.

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