Former President of the African National Congress and the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma on Monday appeared before the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where he was facing charges of corruption that are linked to the arms deal. The trial was, however, postponed to next week Wednesday to allow the legal team of the former president to make a special plea.
Jacob Zuma stands accused of accepting bribes through notorious Durban businessman, Schabir Shaik in what has come to be known as the arms deal, which involved a French company that is the co-accused in the case. The name of the French company is Thales and it is said to have scored a couple of dubious deals during the period of the deals. The company is represented by the popular defense attorney Barry Roux of Oscar Pistorious fame.
The reason for the postponement of the case is that the Zuma’s legal team would like to ask for the recusal of the prosecuting lawyer, advocate Billy Downer SC. While they have not openly said why they would like the prosecutor recused, it is strongly felt that they accuse Downer of bias and professional misconduct. However, the real reason why they want him off the case will be made known next week when the trial resumes once again. In his own defense, Downer said that he had not seen the sheet of the special plea that the defense intended to make.
Meanwhile, there was pandemonium outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court as Zuma supporters were seen picketing outside. These included various Umkhonto weSizwe veterans, who were dressed in army fatigues. In addition, some high-ranking ANC members were seen arriving at the High Court ostensibly to provide Zuma with their support. Chief among these is beleaguered secretary-general of the ruling party, Ace Magashule who did not mince his words when quizzed about his presence at the high court. He said, “Zuma was the president of the ANC. He must be supported at all times. As the ANC leaders, that is how we were brought up in the ANC.” Also in support of Zuma was war veteran Carl Niehaus, who said, “The time has come for President Zuma to be given the time to retire now … and not be subjected to political undermining and political targeting.”