Arms Deal: Zuma, Thales corruption trial to resume tomorrow - or will it?

Zuma and French arms company Thales face corruption, racketeering and money laundering charges linked to the Arms Deal.

Former President Jacob Zuma at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on 21 May 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The corruption case against former President Jacob Zuma is expected to resume in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday, 17 May 2021.

Zuma and French arms company Thales face corruption, racketeering, and money laundering charges linked to the Arms Deal.

It’s been reported Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille, who blew the whistle on the multi-billion rand deal over two decades ago, will be the State’s first witness.

However, the former president’s defence on the matter remained unclear as he has recently parted ways with advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, Eric Mabuza, and the rest of his legal team on the case.

Last week, legal expert Advocate Mannie Witz said there was a chance that the case against the former president could be postponed if he failed to secure legal representation by then.

Witz added that Zuma could face a challenge from the State after terminating the services of a legal team that was familiar with his case.

“The State won’t take this lightly; it’s got witnesses available that consulted, that prepared, and have been ready for a few years to receive the matter. But it’s just one of those consequences that you, unfortunately, have to deal with.”

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The State said it had lined up over 200 witnesses, with their testimony expected to be heard until 20 June.

Earlier this year, the National Prosecuting Authority’s Natasha Kara said: “The matter was certified trial-ready. All parties have agreed that on the trial date, they will all be in court.”

Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, graft, and racketeering relating to a R30 billion purchase in 1999 of fighter jets, patrol boats, and military equipment from five European arms companies.

He allegedly took bribes amounting to R4 million from one of the firms, French defence giant Thales at the time when he was deputy president.

Additional reporting by Nkosikhona Duma

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