Former South Africa leader Zuma in court to face corruption charges

Durban High Court

Jacob Zuma, former South African president, says he will be proven innocent of the corruption charges brought against him.

South Africa's former president Jacob Zuma defiant outside court on Friday, .

The adviser, Schabir Shaikh, was found guilty of trying to solicit the bribes and was jailed in 2005.

South Africa's new president, the wealthy businessman and former labour leader Cyril Ramaphosa, came to power on a pledge to fight corruption.

"I am innocent until proven guilty, but there are people who want to treat me like I am guilty", Zuma said to wild cheers.

The dispute over the fees represents a larger problem for the governing party, the African National Congress, or ANC, which must determine how strongly to back Zuma during his corruption trial.

Thales, which supplied naval vessels as part of the deal, also faces charges with corruption and a company representative appeared in court alongside Zuma.

Thousands of Zuma supporters marched in Durban's streets after Zuma's court appearance.

Just weeks before the 2009 parliamentary election, then head of the National Prosecuting Authority Mokotedi Mpshe abruptly dropped the charges, removing the political barriers for Zuma to become president.

Jacob Zuma tribute to Mam'Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: One of our pillars of the movement has fallen
Zuma support march – Durban road closures

After his court appearance, Mr. Zuma took to the stage at a rally of his supporters, portraying himself as the victim of a "political plot" because of his race and his economic beliefs. This points to Zuma's popularity, his ability to draw crowds - and a penchant to divide and rule.

Members of the ANC provincial executive committee that was dissolved - after the Pietermaritzburg High Court nullified the conference that elected them in 2015 - were seen in Court A today.

Zuma announced his resignation in a televised address to the people on Wednesday, February 14.

Zuma, 75, has denied the allegations.

"Even those I trusted are treating me like a convicted criminal", he said, describing the case as one full of lies and conspiracy.

Zuma faces 16 counts of corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering, which dogged his presidency and were reinstated in 2016. Hundreds of supporters also defied instructions from Luthuli House not to wear party regalia and colours to court, preferring to show loyalty to Zuma instead.

Ramaphosa has said that, under the agreement, Zuma will have to reimburse the state if he eventually loses the case.

Thuman Mkhize, 43 and unemployed, from Durban said Zuma "was the ideal leader" because he "opened free education and land".

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