Jacob Zuma, the former president of South Africa, arrived in court on Wednesday, where he was anticipated to enter a not guilty plea to accusations of corruption, fraud, racketeering, and money laundering stemming from a $2 billion arms transaction when he was deputy president.
Zuma, who served as president from 2009 to 2018, is facing 18 charges related to the 1999 agreement.
He has denied the allegations, claiming that he is the target of a politically motivated witch hunt by a rival section of the ruling African National Congress.
Zuma is accused of collecting 500,000 rand ($34,000) a year from Thales, a French arms company, in exchange for shielding the firm from a probe into the agreement. He refutes the accusation.
Apart from registering a plea before the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, Zuma’s defense team is anticipated to ask for state prosecutor Billy Downer’s recusal, claiming that he has “no title to prosecute.”
At the time of the transaction, Thales was known as Thomson-CSF. It claimed it was unaware of any wrongdoing by any of its employees in respect to the contract awards.
The accusations against Zuma were brought by the National Prosecuting Authority more than a decade ago, were dropped just before he stood for president in 2009 and were resurrected a month after he resigned in early 2018.