Zuma’s graft trial postponed to September 9
The long-running corruption trial of South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma over an arms deal dating back more than two decades was postponed on Tuesday to next month after he was hospitalised last week.
The 79-year-old was admitted to the hospital for observation on Friday for an undisclosed condition, which prompted Tuesday’s hearing to be held virtually rather than in open court.
“The matter is postponed to 9th and 10th of September, 2021,” Judge Piet Koen declared, pending a medical report on Zuma.
The case has been carrying on for years and has suffered a string of holdups.
Wim Trengove, a lawyer representing the state, last month acerbically referred to the postponements as “Stalingrad: Season 27,” apparently referring to an entrenched strategy of delay by the defence.
Tuesday’s hearing was to involve a plea by the defence to remove a state prosecutor and thus have the charges against Zuma dropped.
Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering linked to the 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and equipment from five European arms firms when he was deputy president.
He is accused of taking bribes from one of the firms, French defence giant Thales, which has been charged with corruption. Both Zuma and Thales have pleaded not guilty.
Zuma last month began serving a 15-month jail sentence for snubbing a commission probing state corruption under his 2009-2018 presidency.
He remains in hospital at an undisclosed location.