Former South African president, Jacob Zuma, filed notice to appeal to a high court against his failed attempt to stop a fraud and corruption trial for an alleged 2005 arms scandal.
In a brief appearance at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg, Zuma’s fraud and corruption trial – which was scheduled to start on Tuesday, 15 October 2019 – has now been postponed to February 2020 for pre-trial proceedings, the court ruled.
According to Tuesday’s hearing, the high court heard that Zuma’s legal team intended to appeal last Friday’s Constitutional Court ruling that authorised that the former president and co-accused French arms dealer, Thales, should stand trial in the fraud and corruption case involving a multi-billion dollar arms deal that went wrong.
Zuma and Thales sought to stop the case, citing that there was not enough evidence to support the charges and the case should be thrown out – a contention which the ConCourt rejected last week.
The high court has given Zuma and Thales until Friday, 1 November 2019, to file papers in their leave to appeal the bid which will be heard on Friday, 22 November 2019 – paving the way for the criminal case to be postponed to 4 February 2020, depending on the outcome of the appeal.
Pierre de Vos, a constitutional law expert at the University of Cape Town, said Zuma’s chances of success in the appeal were slim.
Zuma faces a series of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering charges resulting from a 1999 arms deal worth 2.1 billion dollars when he was Deputy President to President Thabo Mbeki- who fired him over the arms scandal.
The allegations placed Deputy President Zuma as receiving bribes from Thales through his former financial adviser, convicted Durban fraudster, Schabir Shaik.
Fast forward and Zuma succeeds Mbeki as president of the country in 2008, he releases his friend Shaik from prison on medical grounds in 2009 after serving only two years of his 15-year sentence after his conviction for corruption in 2005.