DURBAN – Former president Jacob Zuma will make his appearance on Friday at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg. He and co-accused French arms manufacturer Thales are pursuing the application for a permanent stay of prosecution. They are facing corruption and fraud charges over the controversial arms deal.
Zuma’s supporters, including veteran Struggle activist Carl Niehaus, have held a night vigil outside the court.
Niehaus, who is a senior member of the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), said he would later attend a gathering outside the Court to be addressed by Zuma after his appearance.
Niehaus also says the damning evidence presented against Zuma at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture would not deter his supporters from rallying behind him.
They have both filed affidavits in the Durban High Court seeking a permanent stay of prosecution.
Former minerals resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi told the Zondo commission this week that Zuma had sold his presidential authority to the controversial Gupta family who had taken control of state-owned entities.
Niehaus said MKMVA members and Zuma supporters are convinced that he would not get a free and fair trial.
“The support is not being premised on whatever is being said by any individual who gives evidence at the commission on state capture.
“Anyone can come to the commission and tell whatever story they want to tell, and at the end of the day those stories have to be subjected to cross-examination.
“Therefore we are not going to jump to conclusions because at this stage these are only allegations,” he said. They would wait for the commission’s findings before reaching a conclusion.
“What is being said at the commission, for now, has no bearing on our support for Zuma. At this stage we are working on the belief that everyone including former president Zuma is afforded the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” he said.
He added that it was common knowledge that Zuma had a relationship with the Guptas, who were his son’s business partners. He said the MKMVA also had business relationships with Gupta-associated companies, but “we are not captured”.
“As long as those relationships are above board, legal and not corrupt (then they are okay),” said Niehaus.