WATCH: Zuma arms deal corruption trial finally kicks off after 16-year delay

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By Sihle Mavuso 7h ago

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Durban – The long-delayed corruption trial of former President Jacob Zuma will finally begin in May.

This was confirmed on Tuesday in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg when the case was referred for a preliminary hearing chaired by Judge Nkosinathi Chile.

Zuma was not in court and the state said it had no qualms about it, as there was a pre-agreement that he shouldn’t come.

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He is accused of pocketing bribes during the purchase of weapons in 1998-1999.

He denies the charges against him, saying they are politically motivated.

The bribes, including an annual indemnity of 500,000 rand, were reportedly paid by his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, and came from Thales, a French arms company which has scored tenders to supply weapons during the weapons purchase process.

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Representing the NPA, attorney Billy Downer SC said all outstanding issues have been settled and the case is ready for trial.

State Attorneys Kelvin Singh and Billy Downer. Photo: Dr Ngcobo / African News Agency (ANA)

Dubbed the corruption trial of the century by some, Downer said it would run for two court terms, suggesting it could run until 2022.

In agreement, Zuma’s attorney, attorney Mpilo Sikhakhane, said he had no problem with the postponement to May 17, when the case will finally be heard.

Lawyer Samantha Jackson, Lawyer Mpilo Sikhakhane and Lawyer Rudolph Baloyi. Photo: Dr Ngcobo / African News Agency (ANA)

After the two legal teams came to an agreement on this point, Judge Chile certified the agreement as a court order.

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“The case is now certified ready for trial,” he said, paving the way for the case to be started.

NPA spokeswoman in KwaZulu-Natal Natasha Kara said the first round of the case would run from May 17 to June 20.

“Further dates will be determined following any decision taken by the presiding officer (judge) as well as the honorable presiding judge,” Kara said.

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