Jacob Zuma’s children in show of support ahead of corruption trial

Nivashni Nair Senior reporter
Former president Jacob Zuma's corruption trial is set to start in the Pietermaritzburg high court today
Former president Jacob Zuma's corruption trial is set to start in the Pietermaritzburg high court today
Image: REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS

The precinct around the Pietermaritzburg high court was buzzing with police on Monday morning ahead of the start of former president Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial, with his children Duduzane and Duduzile demonstrating their support.

By 8am, Zuma’s son Duduzane and Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus had arrived at court to support the former president. No other supporters were present in Freedom Square, where police had anticipated a large gathering.

While the state is ready to proceed with the trial and its first witness, public works minister Patricia de Lille, is available to testify, the proceedings are likely to be adjourned as Zuma’s new legal team will have to familiarise itself with the matter.

De Lille is expected to arrive at court this morning.

Zuma has not yet revealed who will represent him. However, his daughter, Dudu Zuma-Sambudla, said in a tweet that her father’s legal team would be led by advocate Thabani Masuku.

Last month instructing attorney Eric Mabuza filed a notice of withdrawal from the case but did not provide reasons. The withdrawal will include advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, who had fiercely argued for Zuma in court ahead of the trial.

In the past Zuma’s defence team was accused of adopting a “Stalingrad approach” by  launching many court applications to delay the start of the corruption trial while the state has always said it was ready to proceed.

In 2007, Zuma’s then advocate Kemp J Kemp told the Durban High Court: “We have adopted a Stalingrad strategy in response to this prosecution. We will fight [the state] in every street, in every house, and in every room.”

Since then, under the instruction of Zuma’s long-time attorney Michael Hulley, his defence team tried every possible legal avenue to prevent him from being prosecuted.

Zuma is accused of receiving an annual bribe of R500,000 from French arms dealer Thales for protection from an investigation into the controversial arms deal.

The alleged bribe was facilitated by Schabir Shaik, who was Zuma’s former financial adviser.

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