Corruption trial of S.Africa’s Zuma to resume on August 10

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Cape Town

Jacob Zuma’s long-running corruption trial will resume on August 10, a South African judge ruled on Tuesday after the ex-president sought to have the case postponed because of the pandemic and recent unrest.

The order marks a victory for Zuma, who is serving a 15-month jail term for contempt of court on an unrelated matter.

Zuma appeared in court on Monday via video link from his prison, where he was jailed on July 8 for snubbing an order from South Africa’s top judges to appear before a corruption probe.

Following his jailing, South Africa plunged into chaos, with looting and rioting erupting in Zuma’s home region of KwaZulu-Natal before spreading to Johannesburg.

A total of 215 people were killed, according to the authorities, while the total financial cost of the unrest could reach 50 billion rand ($3.4 billion), according to consultancy Intellidex.

The violence, which subsided by the weekend, was widely seen as at least partially in response to Zuma’s imprisonment.

The 79-year-old faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering related to the 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and equipment from five European arms firms when he was deputy president.

He is accused of taking bribes from one of the firms, French defence giant Thales, which has been charged with corruption and money laundering.

Both Zuma and Thales have entered pleas of not guilty. “The trial is adjourned to 10 to 13 August,” Judge Piet Koen said during Tuesday’s hearing.

Zuma’s foundation immediately lauded the decision, tweeting: “The Constitution has prevailed at last!”

“There can be NO virtual criminal proceedings in the absence of an accused person who is unable to consult with his lawyers,” it said.—AFP

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