I’m innocent, Zuma says after court appearance
DURBAN Former South African president Jacob Zuma has told cheering supporters he is not guilty of corruption after appearing in KwaZulu-Natal High Court yesterday, two months after his party, the African National Congress, forced him from office.
In a sign that the corruption case against Zuma could go on for years, prosecutor Billy Downer said Zuma’s legal team planned to challenge the legitimacy of the prosecution, which involves the reinstatement of charges of fraud, racketeering and money laundering that had been dropped years ago, and to seek a permanent stay.
Downer said authorities were ready to proceed with a trial in November, but the challenge and request for a stay of prosecution could each take months, especially if appeals are pursued. The case at the Durban court- house was adjourned until June 8 on the agreement of both parties, to enable Zuma’s defence team to prepare their documents for the challenge.
Zuma is charged with 16 counts of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering in relation to 783 payments he allegedly received as part of a South African arms deal in 1999, when he was deputy president. Also facing prosecution is Thales, formerly known as Thint, a French arms company accused of bribing Zuma.
Since being ousted by the ANC and then replaced by his former deputy Cyril Ramaphosa in February, Zuma has claimed the prosecution amounts to an attack by his political enemies.
Zuma said nothing during his court appearance but spoke to supporters in Zulu on a stage outside the courthouse, saying the charges were political and that he was being persecuted because he had exposed the lack of freedom in South Africa.
‘‘The truth will come out. What have I done? I am innocent until proven guilty,’’ he said. ‘‘I can’t believe all the lies about me.’’
He criticised the ANC, saying that when he asked for answers about what had been done to him, no-one was willing to talk to him. ‘‘Why am I being treated as if I’m guilty?’’ he said.
‘‘They are fighting me because I said there is no freedom. That’s why they take me to court. They want to shut my mouth,’’ he said, calling for radical economic transformation and the return of land from white people to black South Africans. LA Times
Jacob Zuma sits in the dock at the High Court in Durban to face charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering.