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Durban- Former President Jacob Zuma’s long-delayed corruption trial will eventually be launched in May. This was confirmed before the High Court of Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday, when the case was taken back to a pre-trial hearing chaired by Judge Nkosinathi Chili. Zuma was not in court and as there was a previous understanding that he could not come, the State said it had no qualms about that. During the 1998-1999 acquisition of weapons, he is accused of pocketing bribes.He disputes the allegations against him, saying that they are motivated by politics.

The bribes, including the annual retainer of R500 000, were allegedly paid by his former financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, and came from Thales, a French weapons manufacturer that, during the arms procurement process, signed tenders to supply arms.Advocate Billy Downer SC, representing the NPA, said all pending matters had been ironed out and the case was ready for trial.

Downer said it would run for two court terms, called by some the corruption trial of the century, and this was a sign that it could drag on until 2022. In agreement, Advocate Mpilo Sikhakhane, Zuma’s counsel, confirmed that they have no problems with the postponement to May 17, when the matter will eventually be heard. Judge Chili certified the agreement as an order of the court, after all legal teams agreed on this.

It is now a certified trial-ready matter,”The matter is now certified trial-ready,” The spokesman for the NPA in KwaZulu-Natal, Natasha Kara, said that the first round of proceedings would run from 17 May to 20 June. “Further dates will be determined following any decision made by the presiding officer (Judge) as well as the honourable judge president,” Kara said.

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