South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma was due to appear in court on April 6 to face charges of corruption in a years-old $2.5 billion arms deal, his lawyer said on Monday.
The National Prosecuting Authority earlier this month said it would seek to prosecute Zuma on 16 charges, including fraud, racketeering, corruption and money laundering.
The case is a dramatic development on a continent where leaders rarely face their accusers in court.
“It was served at my Durban offices. The court date is April 6,” Michael Hulley told Reuters by telephone, referring to the summons. He declined to comment on how his client would respond.
Zuma has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
In fact, according to his lawyer Hulley, they will be challenging National Prosecuting Authority boss Shaun Abrahams’ decision to reinstate the charges against the former head of state.
“I confirm that the summons has been received and that we are preparing an application to review the NDPP’s (National Director of Public Prosecutions’) decision to prosecute (Zuma),” Hulley told the Independent Online, without providing any further explanation.
Zuma, who was forced to resign by his ruling African National Congress last month, was at the centre of a 1990s deal to buy European military kit that has cast a shadow over politics in South Africa for years.
Zuma was deputy president at the time of the arms deal. Schabir Shaikh, his former financial adviser, was found guilty and jailed in 2005 for trying to solicit bribes for Zuma from a French arms company.
The previous charges were filed against Zuma but then dropped by the NPA shortly before he successfully ran for president in 2009.
Since his election nine years ago, his opponents have fought a lengthy legal battle to have the charges reinstated. Zuma countered with his own legal challenges.