South Africa’s scandal-plagued former president Jacob Zuma will face a corruption trial, a court ruled on Friday, dismissing his application for a permanent stay of prosecution.
Zuma, who is accused of taking bribes from French defence company Thales in the 1990s, sought to have the case permanently dropped in March, saying it was politically motivated and that the years of delay would result in an unfair trial.
But the trial is now expected to begin on Tuesday after High Court Judge Willie Seriti ruled that Zuma’s “application for the permanent stay is dismissed with costs”.
The judge agreed with the prosecution that parts of Zuma’s arguments to have the case thrown out were “scandalous and or vexatious”.
Zuma, 77, has been charged with 16 counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to a multi-million-dollar arms deal dating back to before he took office in 2009.
The charges were first brought in 2005. They were dropped by prosecutors in 2009, shortly before Zuma became president, and reinstated in 2016.
He is alleged to have taken the bribes during his time as a provincial economy minister and later as deputy president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the 1990s.
Zuma was forced to resign from office last year over a separate corruption scandal centred around the Gupta business family, who won lucrative contracts with state companies and were allegedly even able to choose cabinet ministers.
The US Treasury on Thursday slapped sanctions on the Gupta brothers, calling them a “significant corruption network” that dispersed bribes and misappropriated millions in state funds.