Former South African president Jacob Zuma will face 16 charges on fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering tied to a 1990s-era arms deal that has haunted his political career for years.
The decision announced Friday by National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams reinstates charges originally filed against Zuma in 2009 after he was implicated in the deal through a former financial advisor who was subsequently jailed when Zuma was deputy president.
“In the interest of transparency, in the interest of the administration of justice, and in the interest of the national prosecution authority, I am of the view that a trial court would be the most appropriate forum for these issues to be ventilated and to be decided upon,” Abrahams said.
“Taking into consideration all evidence at its disposal, the NPA is of the view that there is a reasonable prospect of a successful prosecution,” he added.
The South African Supreme Court upheld a decision to reinstate the charges last year, despite Zuma’s appeal amid an entirely new high-profile corruption investigation tied to the Gupta family, detailed in the 2016 “State of Capture” report issued by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Zuma resigned under pressure in February, with fellow African National Congress (ANC) leader President Cyril Ramaphosa immediately sworn into office.
The ANC in its statement reaffirmed confidence in South Africa’s judicial system and its respect for the independence of the judiciary, as well as equality before the law.
“Accordingly we call on South Africans at large to afford the NPA space to conduct its work unhindered,” the ANC said. “We continue to assert the inalienable right of all in our country, including Comrade Jacob Zuma, to be presumed innocent until and if proven guilty.”
Image: Republic of SA file