jacob zuma state capture

Jacob Zuma trial begins today: Here’s everything you need to know

Andile Sicetsha - 17.05.2021

The first witness on the stand at the ‘Arms Deal’ trial is Patricia de Lille. But, will Jacob Zuma pull a move to delay proceedings?

Former president Jacob Zuma is scheduled to brace the dock next to his co-accused and French multinational company Thales, at the first day of the Arms Deal trial.

On Monday, the Pietermaritzburg High Court was full to capacity as the clock winded closer to the commencement of proceedings. Zuma’s renowned son Duduzane, was seen walking into the court to show support to his father who, since the charges were lodged against him over a decade, has maintained his innocence.

Will Jacob Zuma delay the trial?

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has gone through a tumultuous journey getting to this point, where for the first time, Zuma’s alleged involvement in a shoddy arms deal worth $4.8 billion (R30 billion in 1999 rands) was marred by claims of bribery and corruption.

However, as things stand, Zuma doesn’t have legal representation. In a statement released in late April, Eric Mabuza announced that his team had parted ways with the former president, citing no reason for this decision.

If by the commencement of the arms deal trial, Zuma doesn’t have legal representation, the trial could be postponed to a later date, further hampering the State’s urgency to kick things off.

What’s expected on the first day of the trial

The NPA indicated, on Monday, that it is ready to proceed with the trial. The uncertainty brought about by Zuma’s apparent ill-preparedness is something the State will not take lightly.

“The State won’t take this lightly; it’s got witnesses available that consulted, that prepared, and have been ready for a few years to receive the matter. But it’s just one of those consequences that you, unfortunately, have to deal with,” the public prosecutor said in a statement to EWN.

First to the dock as State witness is Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille, the catalyst of this entire case. Remember, it was De Lille who, during a 1999 Parliamentary sitting, alleged that she had irrefutable evidence of three payments allegedly made by Thyssen-Krupp, a German warship supplier, each of R500 000, to the ANC, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and to the Community Development Foundation, a Mozambique charity with close links to Mandela’s wife, Graça Machel.

De Lille will be crucial in laying the State’s foundation before matters escalate to evidence tying the former president to the multinational corruption scandal.

Here is a summary of the State’s strategy for the first day of the arms deal trial.