Arms deal trial: Jacob Zuma finally has his day in court

Former president Jacob Zuma is said to have pocketed about R1.2 million in bribes from French arms manufacturer Thales



The long-awaited start of former president Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial has been scheduled to get underway on Monday, 17 May 2021, however it seems as if the matter could be delayed yet again.

This after his legal team announced back in April, it had withdrawn its services for the case, which means the matter could be postponed. Given the magnitude of the case, a new legal team would need ample time to go through the necessary documents and get up to speed.

The reasons behind the lawyers’ sudden withdrawal remain unclear, however some are suggesting it could be another delaying tact by the former president. While IOL has reported that the reasons may be more related to matters of principle.

Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, corruption, racketeering, and money-laundering related to the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal in the late 1990s.

The former president is alleged to have received 783 suspicious payments to the tune of R1.2 million from French arms manufacturer Thales, through his disgraced former financial advisor Shabir Shaik.

The payments are alleged to be bribes, in exchange for protecting Thales from an investigation into how it scored the contract

Zuma has denied the allegations and claims they are politically motivated.

NPA ‘ready to proceed’ in Zuma arms deal case

Despite the delay in Jacob Zuma’s arms deal case, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has said it is ready for the matter to go on trial.

“Suffice to say, the state remains ready to proceed with the trial from 17 May 2021,” the NPA said.

Thales had sought to have the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), to drop the racketeering charges against it, as it believes there is no evidence of such. However the same court dismissed the application with costs in January.

Zuma’s life, post-presidency, has been characterised by endless court appearances and legal battles – including in his personal life. The former president could soon find himself in jail after he defied an order by the Constitutional Court, compelling him to appear before the State Capture Commission. The commission has since asked the apex court to impose a two year jail term on Zuma.