Cheering crowd greets Jacob Zuma at court hearing

Jonathan Hernandez
April 7, 2018

Former South African President, Jacob Zuma, on Friday told thousands of his supporters outside court in Durban that he is innocent of the crimes levelled against him.

On Friday morning, Zuma and his supporters said prayers outside the court before he entered the building, flashing a thumbs-up gesture.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) indicted Zuma in 2007 after investigating charges that he took bribes from arms dealers. The alleged bribe was facilitated by Zuma's former financial adviser‚ Schabir Shaik. However, there are some people, even people whom I trusted, who have judged me as guilty already.

Zuma looked tense at times, sitting in a dark suit on the court bench behind his lawyers.

Zuma, forced to resign by the ANC last month, was at the center of a 1990s deal to buy billions of dollars of European military hardware to upgrade South Africa's post-apartheid armed forces.

Last month, national prosecutors announced that corruption charges related to the arms deal would be reinstated against Zuma nearly a decade after they were dropped. "The problem now, the one I'm hated and vilified for, is that freedom without economic freedom is not complete", Zuma said.

Zuma, who resigned in February after losing the support of his party, the African National Congress (ANC), denies any wrongdoing.

It's a dramatic U-turn for Zuma, who just weeks ago held the highest office in the land. Durban is in Zuma's home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

"Hands off Zuma", they chanted.

Zuma' son Edward told supporters at nearby park where several thousand people held an overnight vigil that his father was not anxious.

The corruption allegations were previously filed against Zuma but were dropped prior to his presidential run in 2009. After his election, his opponents fought a lengthy legal battle to have the charges reinstated, finally succeeding in 2016.

After taking the microphone on a baking hot Durban day, Zuma questioned the integrity of the legal system, lamented about conspiracies and plots, bemoaned the abuse of democracy, argued that his rights had been violated, and styled himself as a freedom fighter standing up for the black man.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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