Ricochet News

Zuma's day in court over alleged racketeering, fraud, money laundering and corruption

Apr 6, 2018
Zuma's day in court over alleged racketeering, fraud, money laundering and corruption

The Durban High Court on Friday is expected to be a hive of activity when former President, Jacob Zuma, will make his first court appearance over alleged racketeering, fraud, money laundering and corruption – the same charges that he had dodged for more than 10 years.

Zuma now faces 16 of the original 783 charges that relate a multi-billion rand arms deal the country negotiated in the late 1990s and is expected to appear in the court with representatives from French arms supplier, Thales.

It is alleged that, Zuma received 783 illicit payments from Thales, which were solicited and received by his then financial advisor and convicted fraudster, Schabir Shaik.

Thales had won a bid to supply South Africa with fighter jets, patrol boats and other arms.

For his role in the matter, Shaik was sentenced to 15 years behind bars, but was controversially released on medical parole after serving a few years.

In March, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Shaun Abrahams, previously ridiculed as a Zuma stooge, announced that Zuma will face one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud.

That was two days after the Constitutional Court dismissed an application by the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, which sought to delay Abrahams's announcement on the matter.

Abrahams in February asked his prosecuting team to report to him on whether Zuma should be prosecuted for charges relating to the so-called spy tapes saga.

Upon receipt thereof, he was expected to advise on the way forward.

In October 2017, Zuma lost his appeal when the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) upheld a decision by the Pretoria High Court that charges against Zuma should be reinstated.

It said that the decision to withdraw the 783 counts of corruption against Zuma years ago was “irrational”.

The charges were first brought against Zuma in 2005, but dropped by the NPA in April 2009.

The reason was of the charges being dropped was the 'spy tapes' - recordings of phone conversations that apparently showed there was 'political meddling' in the prosecution of the case by Zuma's political rivals.

Weeks later, Zuma became President of the country after former President Thabo Mbeki was recalled by the African National Congress (ANC).

Zuma was given until end of January this year to make presentations to the NPA on why he should not face the charges.

Hundreds – if not thousands of diehard Zuma supporters are expected to descend on the court in support of the former President.