A South African High Court (Pietermaritzburg) as put on trial Former South African President Jacob Zuma for corruption allegations linked to a 1990s arms deal. He is facing 16 charges of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering relating to a purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military gear from five European arms firms for 30 billion rand, then the equivalent of nearly $5.0 billion.

Zuma, who was at the time serving as deputy president to Thabo Mbeki, is accused of accepting bribes totaling four million rand from one of the firms, French defence giant Thale as well as accepting 783 illegal payments. His financial adviser, Schabir Shaikh, was found guilty of trying to solicit bribes on his behalf from a French arms firm and was jailed in 2005. The charges against Zuma were originally filed a decade ago but then set aside by the National Prosecuting Authority shortly before he successfully ran for president in 2009. After his election, his opponents fought a lengthy legal battle to have the charges reinstated, finally succeeding in 2016.

The case has been postponed numerous times as Zuma lodged a string of motions to have the charges dropped. He described the trial as a “political witch hunt”.

His successor Cyril Ramaphosa came in on a ticket of clean governance and has vowed to root out corruption as a show of commitment in the fight against graft in South Africa.

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