1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
South African former president Jacob Zuma speaks to reporters
South African former President Jacob Zuma denies corruption charges against himImage: Shiraaz Mohamed/AP Photo/picture alliance
Law and JusticeSouth Africa

South Africa: Zuma seeks corruption trial delay

July 19, 2021

The state accuses Zuma of bribery, fraud and money laundering in a $2 billion weapons contract with French company Thales in the late 1990s. He denies all the charges.


Lawyers for South African former President Jacob Zuma asked for a corruption case to be postponed Monday so he could get a "fair trial" in court, afterprotests over his arrest for another case caused havoc last week.

This latest case accuses the former South African leader of receiving bribes from French arms producer Thales in the late 1990s.

Zuma is taking part in the trial from prison after handing himself in on July 7 to serve a 15-month sentence for contempt of court in a separate corruption probe.

Tense atmosphere after major unrest

Protests turned to riots and widespread looting in the KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg regions during the last attempts to try Zuma. They were only quelled when President Cyril Ramaphosa sent25,000 soldiers to those areas.

Ramaphosa believes Zumaꞌs supporters orchestrated some of the worst unrest in the post apartheid era. More than 200 people were killed and more than 2,500 were arrested.

However, while the protests were widely thought to be at least partially connected to Zuma's trial, public dissatisfaction with rising unemployment and COVID-related economic fallout is also high.

The South African authorities deployed forces again during Monday morningꞌs case. Armored cars patrolled the entrance to the  Pietermaritzburg court in case violence flared again, although no incidents were reported.

The charred remains of a car lies in the background of a sign supporting Jacob Zuma in South Africa
Protests over Jacob Zuma's arrest caused chaos in South AfricaImage: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Defendant addresses court remotely from prison

State prosecutors at Pietermaritzburg court in KwaZulu-Natal allege that Zuma received bribes, committed fraud and was involved in money laundering as part of a $2 billion weapons contract with French company Thales in the late 1990s.

Zuma has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On Monday, Zumaꞌs lawyers used what prosecutors called the Stalingrad defense to try to postpone the case further by saying he could only receive a fair trial if he was physically present.

Zuma is answering to the charges virtually from Estcourt prison.

The judge on the case, Piet Koen, adjourned the hearing until Tuesday at 10am (UTC+2).

So far, the man who was president from 2009 to 2018 claims the charges are part of a political vendetta against him.

Zuma, who still has widespread support in the country, handed himself in on July 7 to serve a sentence for contempt of court handed down after he declined to testify in another corruption case involving his alleged dealings with the Gupta brothers.

jc/msh (Reuters, AP, EFE)

Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Journalist Evan Gershkovich

Russia detains Wall Street Journal reporter for 'spying'

Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage