Former President Jacob Zuma has accused the state of delaying his trial, and casting doubt on whether the state will ever be ready for trial.

On the eve of Zuma’s appearance in the Pietermaritzburg High Court for his corruption case, a dispute has ensued between Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

This comes after the JG Zuma Foundation revealed that 17 May has been proposed as a trial date.

The case against Zuma and French arms company, Thales, is linked to the multi-billion rand Arms Deal in 1999.

The matter had previously been postponed mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pending applications by the accused. These included Thales’ application for a review of the racketeering charge and the company’s request for further particulars on the charges. The case was postponed in December for a second time due to unresolved pre-trial issues.

Tuesday’s court appearance had been set as a provisional trial date to finalise the criminal matter.

Judgment reserved in French arms company, Thales matter

In October, Thales had brought an application challenging the racketeering charge against them. However, the company’s application was dismissed last month. The company decided that it will not appeal the judgment.

Zuma is facing 16 charges – which include 783 payments Thales allegedly made to him. Zuma’s convicted former financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, allegedly solicited bribes on behalf of Zuma from Thint, as Thales was known at the time.

According to the NPA, the court appearance will allow all parties to discuss and finalise outstanding pre-trial matters as well as set a trial date.

In a statement, NPA Spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said the state and Thales have suggested that the trial date be set for May 17th.

This was in response to a statement by the JG Zuma Foundation, which raised concern about another postponement. It also doubted whether the state will be ready for trial by May the 17th. According to the statement, the legal team for the former President will continue asking for the case to be struck off the roll until the state is ready to go to trial.

Meanwhile, indications are that the court appearance will be a low-key affair as far as the presence of Zuma supporters is concerned.

Zuma and Thales case postponed to 23rd February