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Zuma makes second court appearance on corruption charges

Former South
African President Jacob Zuma, who was ousted by his own party in
February, appeared at the Durban High Court on Friday for the
second time on corruption charges relating to a $2.5 billion
arms deal in the late 1990s.

Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, racketeering and money
laundering relating to the deal to buy European military
hardware to upgrade South Africa’s armed forces after the end of
apartheid in 1994.

State prosecutors and Zuma‘s lawyers presented arguments
over a start date for the trial, a rare example of an African
leader being held to account for his actions.

Judge Mjabuliseni Madondo adjourned the case to July 27 for
the state and the defence to indicate whether they can commence
the case. The matter will be heard in the nearby city of
Pietermaritzburg to allow for renovations at the Durban court.

“There are still some applications to be launched,” he said,
adding that it was still too early to say when a trial could
start. Lawyers for the state said they were still ready for a
trial to start in November.

Zuma, clad in a dark suit and red tie, shook hands and
laughed with his supporters as he left the court. Outside,
hundreds of supporters sang his name and waved placards.

The national prosecutor this week turned down a request by
the 76-year-old to delay Friday’s hearing pending the outcome of
a separate legal challenge over the state paying his legal
fees.

The speed with which prosecutors have moved against Zuma is
a sign of his waning influence since he was replaced as head of
state by Cyril Ramaphosa, his former deputy, four months ago.

Ramaphosa has made the fight against corruption a top
priority as he seeks to woo foreign investment and revamp an
ailing economy.

Zuma‘s supporters say the former president, whose nine years
in power were marked by economic stagnation and credit rating
downgrades, is the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.

Read: Jacob Zuma to appear in SA court on corruption charges

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