South Africa’s Zuma to face corruption trial

FILE Former President Jacob Zuma and Atul Gupta

FILE Former President Jacob Zuma and Atul Gupta

Mr Zuma, 77, claimed previous year that he was so broke that he had to sell his socks to raise legal fees, after another court ruled he should front the bills.

In the criminal case against him, the former president faces charges of fraud, money laundering, racketeering, and corruption which relate to alleged bribes paid to him by French arms company Thales - one of the successful contractors in the multibillion-rand arms deal.

Earlier on Friday, the court dismissed Zuma's application for the case to be struck off the roll meaning his trial is expected to start next week Tuesday.

Mr Zuma's legal team argued his court case had been prejudiced by long delays and there was political interference in his prosecution.

The NPA had the opportunity to prosecute Zuma alongside Shaik in 2004 but declined to do so, even though it said it had a prima facie case against Zuma.

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Mr Zuma, who was forced to resign previous year over multiple graft allegations, is alleged to have taken the bribes during his time as a provincial economy minister and later as deputy president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the 1990s.

Should Zuma, 77, and Thales want to appeal the decision, they will have to do so within the next 15 days. They were dropped by prosecutors in 2009, shortly before Zuma became president, and reinstated in 2016.

Zuma's appearance lasted less than two minutes, and although there was a strong police presence outside the courthouse, none of his usual throng of supporters were at the court.

The charges date back to 2005 when the former president received 783 payments totalling over R4m from his then-financial adviser Schabir Shaik.

The U.S. Treasury on Thursday imposed sanctions on the three Gupta brothers and a fourth businessman, Salim Essa, whom it said were members of a "significant corruption network in South Africa".

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