South Africa's Jacob Zuma proclaims innocence after court appearance

Friday April 6 2018

PETER DUBE
By PETER DUBE
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AFP
By AFP
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South Africa's former president, Jacob Zuma, said graft charges against him were "politically motivated" after he appeared in court on Friday over a multibillion-dollar arms deal in the 1990s.

"I am innocent till proven guilty, but there are people who want to treat me like I am guilty," Mr Zuma told cheering supporters outside the Durban High Court after the case was adjourned following a 15-minute preliminary hearing.

Mr Zuma is facing 16 counts of corruption, money laundering and fraud.

Hundreds of his supporters had spent Thursday night in the streets of Durban ahead of Mr Zuma’s court appearance.

Most of them were clad in African National Congress (ANC) regalia in defiance of the ruling party’s directive to members not to don its attire to the court house.

Edward Zuma, his eldest son, told the media in Durban that his father felt betrayed by the ANC.

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“They [supporters] are justified in the manner they are gathering as we all believe that there's a witch-hunt against the former president and it is from all corners and all levels,” he said.

He said he believed his father was innocent and that “he is definitely not worried, though I've not spoken to him for some time."

Former South African president Jacob Zuma
Former South African president Jacob Zuma appears in the Durban High court on April 6, 2018. PHOTO | AFP

One of Mr Zuma’s supporters and organiser of a rally to protest his prosecution, Bishop Nqoba Zindela, told the media they were praying for a miracle.

“We believe if God stood with Jesus Christ when he was betrayed, he will stand with Jacob Zuma in court,” bishop Zindela said.

Religious and traditional leaders and Black First Land First (BLF), a radical pro-Zuma group that has supported him through numerous scandals, spent most of Thursday night praying and protesting his innocence.

Mr Zuma was forced to resign by his ANC party in February and just four weeks later the National Prosecutions Authority ordered he be charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering.

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