WORLD / AFRICA
Zuma trial to resume after violence hits South Africa
Published: Jul 19, 2021 05:18 PM
Former President Jacob Zuma enters the High Court where he faces charges that include fraud, corruption and racketeering, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on Tuesday. Photo: VCG

Former President Jacob Zuma enters the High Court where he faces charges that include fraud, corruption and racketeering, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on Tuesday. Photo: VCG


The long-running corruption trial of South Africa's jailed ex-president Jacob Zuma was due to resume virtually on Monday, despite deadly violence that swept the nation after his imprisonment in an unrelated case.

Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering related to the 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military gear from five European arms firms when he was deputy president.

He is accused of taking bribes from one of the firms, French defence giant Thales, which has been charged with corruption and money laundering. The trial started in May after numerous postponements and delays, as Zuma's legal team worked fervently to have the charges dropped. Zuma, 79, who appeared in person for the opening, proclaimed his innocence. Thales also pleaded not guilty, and the next hearing was set for Monday. 

On June 29, Zuma was separately found guilty of contempt of South Africa's top court for snubbing graft investigators probing his time as president. 

South Africa was then plunged into chaos, with looting and rioting erupting in Zuma's home region KwaZulu-Natal as well as Gauteng province, claiming more than 200 lives. The unrest was widely seen as at least partially in response to Zuma's imprisonment. Monday's hearing, which will be held virtually, could reignite tensions that had eased by the weekend, analysts warn. 

"People will be watching the behaviour of judges," said Sipho Seepe, a fellow of the University of Zululand in KwaZulu-Natal. 


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