Former South African president Jacob Zuma was on Friday charged with corruption relating to a $2.5 billion arms deal in the 1990s. The 75-year-old faces 16 charges including fraud, racketeering and money laundering.
A high court in Durban has adjourned the case to June 8, 2018, after state prosecutors and Zuma’s lawyers asked for more time to prepare submissions.
After his 15-minutes appearance at the court, Zuma told a crowd that had gathered outside that he would be proven innocent in the case.
“Some people are acting like I have been convicted, I am innocent until proven guilty,” he was quoted by Reuters news agency.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) indicted Zuma in 2007 after investigating charges that he took bribes from arms dealers. The charges were however dropped by the agency in 2009 shortly before Mr Zuma became president.
South Africa’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance has since been fighting for years to have the charges against Mr Zuma reinstated.
A court in April 2016 said that the NPA’s decision to withdraw the charges was irrational and made under political pressure, adding that Mr Zuma should face the charges as outlined in the indictment.
Mr Zuma appealed the ruling, but the Supreme Court of Appeal in October 2017 upheld the lower court’s decision that Mr Zuma should stand trial. Mr Zuma subsequently made efforts to avoid the charges in January, as he submitted arguments to the NPA why they should be dropped.
But the NPA last month said the bid was unsuccessful.
Zuma is now standing trial in his home province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. He has served as president since 2009 and has faced numerous allegations of corruption which he denies. Zuma has also survived several motions of no confidence.
After his resignation on February 14 this year, the leader of the ANC party and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as president following parliamentary approval.