Ex-president Zuma corruption case pushed to next month

Former president Jacob Zuma sits in the Pietermaritzburg High Court for the hearing. [Reuters]

Former president Jacob Zuma’s fraud and corruption case has been postponed to August 10 in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, SABC news has said.

The South African national news broadcaster added that Zuma’s lawyers argued that the virtual hearing of his case would compromise his right to a fair trial.

However, the National Prosecuting Authority is said to have dismissed that as another delaying tactic by the former president.

Zuma was set to make a “special plea” to be acquitted without trial. His lawyers say he wants to testify orally as part of this plea.

Zuma, whose jailing earlier this month triggered riots, was expected to appear virtually on Monday for the latest hearing in a trial related to an arms deal corruption case.

Proceedings were due to start at the Pietermaritzburg High Court. 

While the security situation has largely been brought under control, there were fears that Zuma's latest court appearance could once again trigger protests from his support base.

Zuma handed himself over to start a 15-month prison sentence this month for failing to appear at an inquiry into corruption during his nine years in power until 2018 - a separate case to the current trial.

Following his imprisonment, protests flared up in his home province KwaZulu-Natal which escalated into rampant looting, arson and riots, and spread to Gauteng province. More than 200 people were killed. 

Zuma faces multiple charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering over a $2 billion arms deal involving French company Thales (then known as Thomson-CSF), when Zuma was deputy president. 

Zuma and Thales both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.