South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma has proclaimed his innocence after appearing in a preliminary hearing into corruption charges. He told supporters outside court that the charges were politically motivated.
The former president appeared before thousands of supporters immediately after the hearing in Durban, claiming that his name was being "dragged through the mud."
"The truth will come out. What have I done?" said Zuma, speaking in Zulu to the crowd in his home Kwa-Zulu Natal province.
"I am innocent until proven guilty, but there are people who want to treat me like I am guilty," he said.
The allegations include fraud, racketeering, and money laundering. The charges, linked to an arms deal in the 1990s when Zuma was deputy president, were recently reinstated after being rejected nearly a decade ago.
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At the preliminary hearing, Zuma's own legal team and lawyers for the state agreed to postpone proceedings until June 8. Judge Themba Sishi said Zuma was free "on warning."
Details of the case:
Zuma resigned as president on February 14 this year and was replaced by his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, who has promised to take a firm stance against corruption. The resignation paved the way for his prosecution.
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Ramaphosa also seeks to restore the standing of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the reputation of which has suffered as a result of a number of scandals.
rc/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)