Speaking to supporters outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma said he believed he was being tried for fraud, corruption, money laundering, and racketeering due to “victimisation” because of his race.
“As a black person, you will face victimisation until you die, you will also encounter traitors,” he said.
Zuma led the crowd in song, with his signature tune, Umshini wam’, as well as struggle anthem Senzeni Na (What have we done?) among his selection.
The former president also thanked those who attended.
Former KwaZulu-Natal MEC and Zuma supporter Bonginkosi Meshack Radebe also spoke, lashing out at those who have stopped showing their support for Zuma. There have been reports that the amount of people who have been showing up at court has dwindled.
Pre-trial proceedings were postponed to February 4, 2020, during a short court appearance on Tuesday, following Zuma’s lawyer Thabani Masuku indicating that the former president would be appealing last week’s dismissal of his application for stay of prosecution, which would have effectively prevented him from being tried.
The case dates back to the controversial arms deal during Nelson Mandela’s presidency in the 1990s, and subsequently from charges which were first laid in 2005, following his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik being found guilty of fraud and corruption and sentenced to 15 years behind bars.
The charges relate to the purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military equipment arms deal when Zuma was deputy president to Thabo Mbeki, and also involve French arms company Thales.
Zuma is accused of taking bribes worth R4 million from the R51-billion arms deal.
Thales, accused of paying the bribes, is also meant to stand trial, and like Zuma, has denied the charges.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman.)