The High Court in Pietermaritzburg, in KwaZulu-Natal, has ruled that the case against former President Jacob Zuma and French arms company, Thales, will begin on May 17.

Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Nkosinathi Chili says the trial is expected to run until mid- June.

“The court orders as follows one the matter is certified as trial ready in accordance to the judge president’s pre-trial criminal court appearance directive dated 7th November 2018. Two the matter is postponed in absentia in respect of Mr Zuma and the Thales representative to 17 May 2021 to 20 June 2021 until the end of term date for trial and will again resume on the first day of the third term in KwaZulu-Natal and any further dates that the honorable judge presiding and the honorable judge president may determine subject to further clarity and resumption of international travel,” ruled judge Chili.

The Jacob Zuma Foundation has raised concerns over the case delays.

Today while addressing the court, State advocate Billy Downer reiterated the reasons for the numerous delays so far. He also told the court that over 200 witnesses are expected to be called during the trial.

“This court handed out judgement on the 22nd of January 2021 so that issue has been resolved my learned friends that work for Thales indicated formally that they will not take the matter further so that matter as far as pre-trial is concerned is not in my lord as far as the other matter is concerned which was an issue holding up trial that is the issue of COVID and the consequences of COVID the lockdowns and travel restrictions both to and from South Africa which affects both the representatives of accused number 2 Thales and also various witnesses who are overseas my lord it remains a consideration we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” Downer explained.

More on the developments in the case in the video below:

Neither Zuma nor the Thale representative, Christine Guerrier, were present in court, a move which was an agreement between the State and the defense.

Zuma is facing 16 charges that includes 783 payments, allegedly made to him by Thales.

The matter is relates to the procurement of the country’s multi-billion-rand arms in 1999.