Its been a long wait for former President Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial to begin but was adjourned almost immediately and postponed to 26 May.
According to his legal team at the Pietermaritzburg High Court, the Former president is ready to proceed with the corruption and racketeering trial against him.
Proceedings began on Monday morning with Judge Piet Koen granting Zuma’s former lawyer, Eric Mabuza, leave to withdraw as Zuma’s legal representative. His new legal representative is advocate Thabani Masuku
The trial has been highly anticipated and with Zuma’s legal team recusing itself from representing him just three weeks before the trial date. Mabuza and advocate Muzi Sikhakhane made up Zuma’s strong defense team until just under a month ago.
The former President faces charges of racketeering, two counts of corruption, and 12 counts of fraud. He also allegedly made false income tax returns and is standing trial alongside French arms manufacturer Thales.
At the onset of the trial, lead prosecutor Billy Downer approached Koen on a possible recusal application from Zuma. According to Koen, a special plea application would be filed on behalf of the accused, former President Zuma, explaining the basis of the application. And the NPA would be allowed to respond with an affidavit.
According to Masuku, who is now representing Zuma, on May 26, they will enter a plea application of not guilty placed before the court.
Affidavits from the NPA and Zuma will have to be filed before next week Wednesday.
“This trial is adjourned to May 26, and the accused are warned to be present on that day and it is expected that a plea will be recorded,” Koen said.
An upbeat Zuma, attended the hearing wearing a mask, while many supporters gathered outside including former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo and suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
By Naadiya Adams