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Corruption Trial of South Africa’s Zuma Resumes


FILE - Former South African President Jacob Zuma addresses the press at his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal Province, July 4, 2021.

The corruption trial of former South African President Jacob Zuma resumed with a hearing Monday, following several days of deadly riots linked to his imprisonment in a separate case.

Zuma appeared virtually when the proceedings began at Pietermaritzburg High Court in the former president’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal. He is charged with multiple counts of corruption, fraud and racketeering in connection with a massive 1999 arms deal involving French defense giant Thales when he served as deputy president. The company has also been charged with corruption and money laundering.

The 79-year-old Zuma surrendered to authorities in his home province nearly two weeks ago to begin serving a 15-month prison sentence handed down by the Constitutional Court in late June. The sentence was for failing to appear before an inquiry into corruption during his nine-year presidency which ended in 2018.

His surrender triggered angry protests in KwaZulu-Natal which soon evolved into rioting, looting and arson that spread into Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city and economic hub. More than 200 people were killed in the violence before security forces were deployed to restore order. Over one thousand people have been arrested for theft and vandalism.

Zuma’s lawyers will argue that chief prosecutor Billy Downer should recuse himself from the case during Monday’s hearing, arguing that Downer is biased against their client.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.