South Africa: Supporters of Ex-President Zuma Slam Prosecuting Authority

Former South Africa President Jacob Zuma's backers on Monday slammed the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), saying his long-drawn corruption case was politically motivated.

Former Finance minister Des Van Rooyen, Carl Niehaus of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association, and Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama, were among those who turned up at the Kwa-Zulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg in support of Mr Zuma.

Mr Zuma's lawyer Muzi Sikhakhane said the former president should have been charged in 2005 alongside his financial adviser Schabir Shaik.

Mr Zuma and French arms company Thales are facing charges of fraud, money laundering, corruption and racketeering for a series of alleged bribes paid to him through Mr Shaik, during the multibillion-rand arms deal in the late 1990s.

Mr Shaik was found guilty of fraud and corruption in June 2005 for irregularities surrounding the same matter and sentenced to 15 years behind bars.

Mr Sikhakhane argued that the NPA's decision not to charge Mr Zuma along with Mr Shaik in 2005 effectively resulted in him being tried in his absence, as he was not able to cross-examine witnesses.

"Evidence that we today say is incontrovertible may not have been so," he said.

Outside court, BLF leader Mr Mngxitama told Mr Zuma's supporters that the case was a "judicial lynching".

"This is using the judiciary to settle a political score. It has nothing to do with justice and fighting corruption," he added.

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