World Media

South Africa’s ex-leader Zuma to face corruption charges

The US has blacklisted South Africa Gupta

Zuma, who is accused of taking bribes from French defence company Thales in the 1990s, sought to have the case permanently dropped in March, saying it was politically motivated and that the years of delay would result in an unfair trial.

The ruling by Judge Jerome Mnguni in the Pietermaritzburg High Court paves way for Zuma's trial to start on October 15.

The High Court also dismissed an application by Thales to quash the trial. The four have all denied wrongdoing.

He also said Zuma's claims that he was a victim of a "witch hunt" were unfounded.

In a statement, the treasury alleged that the brothers were able to expand their businesses after immigrating to South Africa in the early 1990s "due in large part to their generous donations to a political party and their reportedly close relationship with former South African president Jacob Zuma".

The charges date back to 2005 when the former president received 783 payments totalling over R4m from his then-financial adviser Schabir Shaik.

Mr Zuma was president from 2009 to 2018, when he was forced to resign by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party amid separate allegations of corruption linked to the controversial Gupta family.

However they said they were satisfied that the delays would not prejudice the trial.

Thales said it was reviewing the judgement with its lawyers and would assess its legal options. Political analyst Xolani Dube warned that Zuma could lodge an "urgent" appeal. Zuma countered with his own legal challenge.

Zuma was forced to resign from office past year over a separate corruption scandal centred around the Gupta business family, who won lucrative contracts with state companies and were allegedly even able to choose cabinet ministers. The commission of inquiry into state capture, which is now underway, is investigating allegations of undue influence by the politically connected Gupta family on former president Jacob Zuma and at state-owned enterprises.

In a telephonic media briefing facilitated by the Africa Regional Media hub, US Secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence Sigal Mandelkar confirmed that the Gupta family had been sanctioned for its involvement in widespread corruption and the misappropriation of state assets in this country.