Ex-South Africa leader Zuma’s fraud trial delayed

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Johannesburg, July 27 (IANS) Former South African President Jacob Zuma, facing charges on multiple counts of corruption, was able to postpone on Friday a court trial after his new defence team argued it had not had enough time to prepare for the case against him.

Zuma, who served as the fourth President of South Africa between 2009-18, appeared at the KwaZulu-Natal region high court in Pietermaritzburg, only to have his team of lawyers successfully negotiate for the trial to be postponed until November 30, despite protests from the prosecution that the time period given was too long.

The politician has used many tactics to avoid trial, including dismissing his entire legal team in what local media have described as a “Stalingrad Defence”, Efe news reported.

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Zuma fired his long-time attorney Michael Hulley earlier in the month and replaced him with Daniel Mantsha, former chairman of state-owned arms company Denel who has been linked to the powerful Gupta family.

The Indian-born Guptas, who own a business empire in South Africa, were close associates of Zuma when he was in power and were involved in many of the controversies and corruption allegations that dogged the ex-President’s career.

The 76-year-old politician bowed to party pressure in February and stepped down as President and African National Congress leader, ceding the role to Cyril Ramaphosa.

Two months later, Zuma was charged with 16 counts of corruption, including criminal association, two counts of corruption and 12 of fraud and one count of money laundering based on almost 783 fraudulent operations allegedly carried out in relation to a multi-million dollar arms deal struck in the 1990s when he was deputy President.

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