South Africa's ex-President Zuma in court on corruption charges

South Africa's ex-President J...

Posted: Apr 6, 2018 1:15 PM
Updated: Apr 6, 2018 1:15 PM

South Africa's ex-President Jacob Zuma appeared in a Durban court Friday to face multiple corruption charges relating to a billion-dollar arms deal in the late 1990s.

It's a dramatic U-turn for Zuma, who just weeks ago held the highest office in the land. He resigned on February 14, forced out by the leadership of the ruling African National Congress, his own party.

Thousands of people turned out to support Zuma as he arrived at the high court for his first hearing. They had been asked not to wear ANC colors, but many wore wraps and T-shirts with the former president's image.

Some supporters sang as Zuma entered the courtroom. He turned, smiling, to acknowledge them.

The former President is charged with 16 counts of corruption, money laundering and racketeering, stemming from the billion-dollar government arms deal. He is accused of receiving 783 questionable payments in connection with the deal.

Zuma, who has always said he wanted his day in court, denies any wrongdoing.

After a brief preliminary hearing, the judge adjourned court proceedings to June 8.

Despite its brevity, the hearing was notable in a continent where leaders -- former or current -- don't generally face the law.

Andrew Feinstein, a former ANC member of parliament, has long accused Zuma of corruption. "But the question is, can Zuma keep himself out of court using legal machinations?" he asked.

Up until his Durban court appearance, Zuma's legal team had been successful in doing just that with a series of mostly procedural maneuvers.

In court Friday, his defense said they would challenge the decision to prosecute.

Slew of scandals

The arms deal controversy clouded Zuma's reputation for decades, even before a slew of other scandals rocked his presidency.

In 2005, Zuma's former financial advisor Schabir Shaik was convicted for "overwhelming evidence" of corruption and found guilty of organizing multiple payments to Zuma to help facilitate and protect an arms deal with a French arms company.

In 2009, the charges against Zuma were dropped just before he ascended to the presidency. They were reinstated after years of legal wrangling.

"On one level, Zuma has just run out of legal options, but there has also been a political change and it is unfortunate that that political change has meant that the National Prosecuting Authority is doing what it should have done all along," said advocate James Grant, a former professor of law at Witwatersrand University.

A high-stakes fight

Legal experts believe the trial, should it go ahead, could take years.

The prosecution against Zuma is being led by Billy Downer, the experienced advocate who successfully prosecuted Shaik.

But criminal advocates like Mannie Witz, who has defended everyone from gangsters to soccer stars for four decades, said the state would have its work cut out.

Taxpayers have spent millions footing the bill for some of South Africa's top legal minds working on Zuma's defense. "They understand the game and they are going to give it their all," said Witz.

"I think they are in for a proper fight. This is going to be a 15-rounder -- this is like a heavyweight competition," he said.

Witz says that no matter what, the law now needs to take its course.

"You want to show that everybody is equal before the law and everybody is entitled to his day in court and it doesn't make a difference if you are the president or ex-president of the country," he said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37210

Reported Deaths: 1495
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12048782
Ramsey4777222
Stearns231219
Dakota224890
Anoka2155107
Nobles16616
Olmsted107615
Washington104840
Mower9322
Rice8277
Scott6844
Clay58037
Kandiyohi5661
Wright4535
Blue Earth4422
Todd4002
Carver3611
Lyon3052
Sherburne3035
Freeborn2890
Steele2231
Watonwan2150
Benton2123
St. Louis17415
Martin1615
Nicollet15512
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1278
Winona12015
Crow Wing10412
Pine1030
Chisago971
Otter Tail921
Le Sueur911
McLeod850
Carlton830
Dodge830
Unassigned8237
Polk812
Chippewa761
Isanti650
Itasca6412
Waseca620
Douglas610
Meeker591
Morrison591
Becker550
Jackson550
Faribault540
Murray540
Sibley532
Pennington510
Mille Lacs342
Brown312
Pipestone311
Wabasha310
Beltrami290
Rock290
Yellow Medicine290
Renville282
Fillmore270
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood170
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Cass142
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Roseau100
Clearwater70
Mahnomen71
Lake60
Hubbard50
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30173

Reported Deaths: 718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6275178
Woodbury320144
Black Hawk218058
Buena Vista170511
Linn123882
Johnson12318
Dallas122329
Marshall103519
Story7463
Pottawattamie71911
Scott70410
Wapello70230
Crawford6752
Muscatine62444
Dubuque60922
Sioux4610
Tama45829
Wright3771
Louisa36013
Jasper32117
Plymouth3134
Dickinson2592
Warren2581
Washington2349
Hamilton1871
Webster1702
Boone1421
Cerro Gordo1381
Clarke1272
Clay1270
Allamakee1264
Mahaska11517
Shelby1110
Clinton1041
Poweshiek1048
Pocahontas931
Carroll911
Bremer906
Des Moines862
Henry853
Franklin840
Cedar801
Taylor790
Emmet780
Cherokee751
Monona740
Floyd682
Marion680
Hardin650
Guthrie644
Sac630
Benton621
Jefferson580
Osceola580
Jones560
Harrison530
Humboldt531
Butler522
Buchanan511
Iowa510
Lee502
Monroe506
Hancock490
Calhoun482
Delaware481
Lyon400
Madison402
Clayton393
Davis391
Mills360
Palo Alto360
Winneshiek360
Grundy350
Fayette340
Mitchell340
Kossuth330
Lucas304
Greene280
Howard280
Chickasaw270
Jackson270
Union270
Winnebago270
Ida230
Cass210
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
Van Buren190
Audubon161
Adair150
Ringgold150
Worth150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne90
Adams80
Fremont70
Unassigned70
Rochester
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 88°
Mason City
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 88°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 87°
Austin
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 90°
Charles City
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 87°
HOT AND HUMID
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Pillars of the City Unveiled

Image

A hot day for a bike ride on the Douglas Trail

Image

Sen.Ernst tours homeless shelters, talks challenges

Image

Mask up Roachester Public Service announcement

Image

Staying hydrated over the holidays

Image

Coronavirus impact on holiday travel

Image

Enjoying fireworks social distanced

Image

Family Conflict During The Holidays

Image

Extra Drunk Driving Patrol

Image

Splash Pad Opens In Clear Lake

Community Events