South African court clears path for Zuma’s graft trial
South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma on Thursday lost another bid to delay his corruption trial, as a court rejected four appeals to delay the case set for April.
outh Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma on Thursday lost another bid to delay his corruption trial, as a court rejected four appeals to delay the case set for April.
Zuma faces 16 counts of fraud, graft and racketeering over the purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and equipment from five European arms firms.
The 79-year-old is accused of taking bribes from French defence giant Thales, which has also been charged with corruption and money laundering.
The Supreme Court of Appeal said in a one-sentence ruling dated Monday that his appeals had “no reasonable prospect of success.”
The ruling, made public Thursday, was welcomed by the National Prosecuting Authority.
The NPA said it will “now focus on ensuring that the trial resumes on April 11, 2022.”
In October, Zuma had sought to have lead prosecutor Billy Downer dropped from the case, accusing him of bias. Zuma contends Downer leaked confidential documents to the media.
Zuma and Thales have denied any wrongdoing.
The trial started in May 2021 after repeated postponements as Zuma’s legal team battled to have the charges dropped.
Zuma was president from 2009 to 2018, but was forced to step down by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) as graft scandals surrounding his government brewed into a political storm.
Last year he was given a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court after refusing to testify before a panel probing financial sleaze and cronyism that proliferated under his presidency.
His jailing sparked riots that descended into looting and left more than 350 dead in the worst violence since the advent of South Africa’s democracy.
He was released on health grounds two months into the term.