South Africa: Court Dismisses Zuma's Bid to Appeal Judgement to Face Trial

30 November 2019

A South African court on Friday dismissed the application of former President Jacob Zuma for leave to appeal the court's earlier judgment to put him on trial.

The Pietermaritzburg High Court in KwaZulu-Natal Province said Zuma's bid to appeal the court's judgement at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has been dismissed. The court ruled in October that Zuma and co-accused Thales, a French arms company, should stand trial on corruption and fraud charges.

Zuma and Thales launched their appeal bid with the hopes that the SCA might come to a different judgement and that Zuma may eventually be granted a permanent stay of prosecution.

With Friday's ruling, the corruption trial will likely proceed in 2020. Zuma's legal team argues that the former president will be prejudiced if the case proceeds and that there has been political interference in the case. The court has denied the allegations.

Zuma faces charges of corruption, money-laundering and racketeering linked to a multi-billion-rand arms deal with Thales in the late 1990s, which Zuma has denied. The prosecution alleges that Zuma took advantage of his position in the government to help businessman Schabir Shaik in his commercial dealings.

Shaik was convicted in 2008 to 15 years in prison for his involvement in facilitating a bribe for Zuma from Thales in exchange for political protection during the investigation into the arms deal. Corruption charges against Zuma were dropped in the early 2000s and paved the way for Zuma to become president in 2009.

In March last year, the National Prosecuting Authority reinstated the corruption charges against Zuma. Also on Friday, the opposition Democratic Alliance welcomed the court ruling, saying it "reaffirms our belief that Jacob Zuma should eventually have to face his day in court".

"We look forward to seeing this matter finally moving towards conclusion," the party said. -Xinhua

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