Zuma pleads not guilty to arms deal corruption charges

The NPA said it was ready to move ahead with the trial, which saw Zuma and French arms company Thales face a raft of criminal charges stemming from the infamous arms deal.

Former President Jacob Zuma arrives at OR Tambo International Airport on 22 February 2020. Image: Sethembiso Zulu/ EWN

PIETERMARITZBURG - Former President Jacob Zuma has pleaded not guilty to all charges in the infamous 1999 arms deal case.

“I plead not guilty,” he said.

As he returned to the dock at Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said there appeared to be no urgency on the part of the former president to finalise his long-running corruption case.

The NPA said it was ready to move ahead with the trial, which saw Zuma and French arms company Thales face a raft of criminal charges stemming from the infamous arms deal.

But the authority is concerned Zuma's latest bid to force prosecutor Billy Downer to recuse himself could further delay the matter.

It's been more than 15 years since Zuma was implicated in the arms deal corruption scandal.

He's accused of having improperly benefited but he and his supporters have consistently argued the allegations against him are politically motivated.

ALSO READ:

The NPA’s Sipho Ngwema said Zuma's bid to have Downer removed from the case due to him allegedly being biased was another delay tactic.

But the State was ready to confront the move in court, he added: “We have seen these things before, we are observing and clearly, there seems to be no urgency on the other side to go into the merits in order for us to deal with the charges we have made against them.”

Ngwema said the authority would not be deterred from serving justice.

WATCH LIVE: Former President Jacob Zuma, Thales corruption trial

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.