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South Africa ex-president Zuma back in court over graft charges

Monday May 20 2019

Former South African president Jacob Zuma sits in the dock of the High Court of Pietermaritzburg on July 27, 2018 for his hearing over 16 corruption charges.

Former South African president Jacob Zuma sits in the dock of the High Court of Pietermaritzburg on July 27, 2018 for his hearing over 16 corruption charges. PHOTO | PHILL MAGAKOE | POOL | AFP 

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By AFP
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Former South African president Jacob Zuma arrived in court on Monday as he fights to have corruption charges against him over 1990s arms deal dropped before the case comes to trial.

Zuma, who was forced to resign by the ruling ANC party last year, has been charged with 16 counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to the weapons deal dating back to before he took office in 2009.

Zuma, 77, is accused of taking bribes from French defence company Thales during his time as a provincial economy minister and later as deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC).

He allegedly pocketed around four million rand ($280,000) from 783 payments handled by Schabir Shaik, a businessman who acted as his financial adviser.

Both Zuma and Thales have denied any wrongdoing and have applied to the court for a permanent stay of prosecution.

The company argues that the re-introduction of the charges "holds no validity" because the charges were originally struck down in 2009, shortly before Zuma became president.

They were re-instated in 2016.

A separate judicial enquiry into alleged state corruption during Zuma's time as president is hearing evidence in Johannesburg.

His successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, who held onto power when the ANC won national elections this month, has vowed to root out corruption in government and the party.