Jacob Zuma’s lawyers tell court he’s being mistreated by prosecutors

South African President Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma

77-year-old Jacob Zuma appeared in court on Monday for the fifth time since racketeering and fraud charges were reinstated against him. Today, Zuma’s lawyers accused prosecutors of “mob justice” and say the former South African president has been charged because he is unpopular in the country.

“Suppose we know that he may well have done what we suspect he did. Does he get stripped of human dignity, is there a reason to deal with him in a particular way because he is Mr. Zuma?” Sikhakhane said in his opening address.

“Zuma was denied the opportunity to challenge evidence that implicated and prejudiced him,” the lawyer added.

Zuma wants a permanent stay of prosecution from 16 charges of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to a deal to buy 30 billion rand of European military hardware for South Africa’s armed forces in the late 1990s.

He also accused prosecutors of being biased against the former president, who was ousted by the ruling party in February 2018 after nine years in power. Zuma has maintained the investigation is nothing more than a large political witch hunt.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Zuma’s former deputy, whose African National Congress party won a general election this month, has pledged to fight corruption as he seeks to woo foreign investment and revamp the ailing economy.