JOHANNESBURG, July 20 (Reuters) – A South African court granted former President Jacob Zuma’s request for a delay in his arms deal corruption trial on Tuesday, and adjourned proceedings for three weeks.
Zuma is accused of receiving kickbacks over a $2 billion arms deal from the 1990s. He pleaded not guilty in May to charges including corruption, fraud and money laundering.
He has evaded prosecution for more than a decade, and portrayed himself as the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.
Efforts to hold him to account are seen as a test of the country’s ability to hold powerful politicians to account.
“The trial is adjourned to 10-13 August 2021,” Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen said. He did not give the reasons why he allowed the delay.
Zuma has started a 15-month sentence for contempt of court.
He appeared before the Pietermaritzburg court virtually but stayed silent while his legal team argued that a postponement should be granted so that he could appear in person.
Zuma’s jailing this month triggered some of the worst unrest of the post-apartheid era. There were fears his latest court appearance could lead to a flare-up of violent protests from his support base. That has not materialised so far.
(Reporting by Alexander Winning and Wendell Roelf; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Timothy Heritage)