The fraud and corruption trial against former South African President Jacob Zuma and French arms manufacturer Thales resumed on Monday, October 17, 2022, at the Pietermaritzburg High Court. The trial is presided over by Judge Piet Koen, who has been overseeing the case since its inception.
However, Judge Koen has recused himself from the case due to health reasons, and a new judge will be appointed to take over. It is not yet clear who the new judge will be or when they will take over the case .
Zuma and Thales face charges of corruption and fraud relating to a multi-billion rand arms deal that took place in the late 1990s. Zuma is accused of receiving bribes from Thales in exchange for protecting the company from an investigation into the deal. Thales faces charges of corruption and fraud for allegedly paying the bribes. Both Zuma and Thales have denied the charges against them .
Zuma’s legal team has tried to delay the trial several times, including by challenging the prosecutor’s right to bring the case against him. In October 2021, Zuma’s special plea to have State advocate Billy Downer removed from the case was dismissed, and the trial was scheduled to proceed on April 11, 2022 .
However, the trial was postponed several times due to Zuma’s health issues and his legal team’s requests for more time to prepare. The trial was set to resume on October 17, 2022, after the previous postponement on August 1, 2022, but was delayed yet again due to Judge Koen’s health issues .
Despite the delays, the trial has drawn significant public attention and has been widely covered by the media. Journalists have faced online abuse and harassment for their reporting on the trial .
As the trial resumes with a new judge, the focus will be on whether Zuma and Thales will be found guilty of the charges against them and whether justice will be served.