Zuma’s corruption case likely to take years to conclude, say legal experts

The former president faces corruption, fraud, and racketeering charges linked to the multi-billion-rand Arms Deal and was expected to appear in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday.

FILE: Former President Jacob Zuma in the Durban High Court on 8 June 2018. He is charged with 16 counts that include fraud‚ corruption and racketeering. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla/Pool

JOHANNESBURG - Legal experts on Monday said the case against former President Jacob Zuma would likely take years before it is concluded.

Zuma faces corruption, fraud, and racketeering charges linked to the multi-billion-rand Arms Deal and was expected to appear in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday.

From 2003–2020: Zuma’s corruption trial 17 years in the making

The former statesman had called for a speedy trial, saying that at the advanced age of 78, time was not on his side.

However, legal experts said that given the high number of witnesses in the matter - some of whom lived overseas – it would not be possible for the trial to start smoothly under current international travel restrictions.

Eyewitness News understands that the State wanted the corruption case against Zuma to be postponed to October with the hope that current lockdown restrictions associated with COVID-19 would have been eased.

The State also wanted to use the time to build its case.

But Zuma’s defence team said a long postponement would affect the former persident’s right to a speedy trial.

Legal expert advocate Mannie Witz said the matter could not be fast-tracked.

“It is going to be a proper legal battle and it’s going to have to go through all the evidence, and all the different elements of the offence and challenges that will come in between with the case,” Witz said. “There might be a trial within a trial. There might be concessions and admissions.”

Witz said Zuma faced serious charges, and if found guilty, he could face a minimum of 15 years in prison.

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