Former SA President Zuma faces corruption charges

South Africa's former President Jacob Zuma is on court on corruption charges related to a 1990s arms deal.

The charges dogged his presidency and were reinstated in 2016.

He faces 16 counts of corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering at the High Court in Durban.

Mr Zuma, who was forced out of office in February, denies any wrongdoing. His supporters have descended on the city to rally for him, while his critics think court action is long overdue.

The 75-year-old arrived at the court in his home province on Friday morning, smiling and giving a thumbs up to the crowd, according to Reuters news agency.

His appearance at the hearing is likely to be brief. However, as the BBC's Andrew Harding says, the former president appearing in a dock on corruption charges is "hugely symbolic" for South Africa's young democracy. Many, he reports, will see it as an era of impunity coming to an end.

Mr Zuma and his legal team insist the charges are trumped up and politically motivated.

What was the arms deal?

Mr Zuma was deputy president at the time of the decades-old arms deal.

He is accused of accepting bribes from French arms firm Thales via his financial adviser at the time.

The adviser, Schabir Shaikh, was found guilty of trying to solicit the bribes and was jailed in 2005.

The case against Mr Zuma was dropped shortly before he ran for president in 2009.

 

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