Monday, 14 October, 2019

S.Africa ex-leader Zuma to face corruption trial: court

The US has blacklisted South Africa Gupta The US has blacklisted South Africa Gupta family over widespread graft
Steven Clarke | 11 October, 2019, 20:26

Former president Jacob Zuma's application for a permanent stay of prosecution to his corruption case has been dismissed with costs.

It also means there will be further scrutiny of a 1999 arms deal in which Mr Zuma is accused of receiving bribes from French arms manufacturer Thales.

The 77-year-old politician was ousted last year after nearly a decade in power, following a bitter internal battle within the ruling African National Congress party.

The defence also argued that there was vast political interference in the matter which met his client could not be afforded a fair trial.

Zuma applied to the Pietermaritzburg High Court to not reinstate corruption charges linked to the multi-billion rand arms deal.

In 2005, Zuma's former financial adviser Schabir Shaik Shaik was found guilty of fraud and corruption for the same payments The 77-year-old's trial is scheduled to being on October 15.

He is alleged to have taken the bribes during his time as a provincial economy minister and later as deputy president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the 1990s.

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The judges blamed both Zuma and the state for the "systemic" delays, saying that "both parties are equally liable as they both participated in the litigation leading to the delay".

They said it failed to prove to the court that there are no reasonable and probable grounds for his successful prosecution.

Thales said it was reviewing the judgement with its lawyers and would assess its legal options. Political analyst Xolani Dube warned that Zuma could lodge an "urgent" appeal.

Zuma was forced to resign from office a year ago over a separate corruption scandal centred around the Gupta business family, who won lucrative contracts with state companies and were allegedly even able to choose cabinet ministers.

The US Treasury Department on Thursday announced sanctions against three Gupta family members. But he later agreed to return at a future date.

His successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, has pledged repeatedly to crack down on corruption in South Africa, which faces massive economic and social challenges.

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