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South Africa court grants delay in Zuma’s corruption trial

Former President Jacob Zuma sits in the dock after recess in his corruption trial in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on May 26, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

A court in South Africa has granted a three-week delay in the corruption trial of ex-President Jacob Zuma.

Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen confirmed on Tuesday that “the trial is adjourned to August 10-13, 2021,” without explaining the reasons for the decision.

But it was apparently made in response to a request for a postponement by Zuma’s defense team so that he could attend in person. He appeared before the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday virtually and stayed silent.

Zuma is accused of taking bribes from the French defense giant Thales, which has been charged with corruption and money laundering. However, he pleaded not guilty to the charges in May.

He was forced to resign when the ruling African National Congress (ANC) lawmakers turned against him over accusations of having links to the wealthy India-born Gupta family, who is alleged to have influenced his government.

For more than a decade, Zuma had avoided prosecution and presented 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 democracy.

Zuma was taken to prison on June 29 for refusing to appear before an anti-graft hearing. However, he seeks to have that ruling set aside on the grounds of his alleged frail health and the risk of catching COVID-19.

Despite the deadly violence that rocked the country following Zuma's imprisonment, the Tuesday trial came and went peacefully.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said that calm has been restored to most of the affected areas.

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