06/04/2018 04:49 BST | Updated 06/04/2018 04:49 BST

Jacob Zuma's 'Day In Court' For Corruption Charges Begins

The former president will appear in the Durban High Court on Friday where he will face 16 charges relating to 783 payments.

Rogan Ward / Reuters
South African President Jacob Zuma arrives at a memorial lecture after unveiling a statue of struggle veteran Harry Gwala in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, August 6, 2017.

Former president Jacob Zuma is expected to appear in the Durban High Court on Friday where he will face 16 charges relating to 783 payments, which he allegedly received in connection with the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal.

While court is expected to get underway at 09:30 on Friday morning, pro-Zuma supporters are expected to gather outside from the early hours of the morning.

The National Interfaith Council of South Africa, in partnership with the Commission for Religious Affairs, held a vigil on Thursday night ahead of Zuma's appearance. A march and "the mother of all prayers" were also planned for Friday morning.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Bishop Bheki Ngcobo told reporters that they were working with law enforcement agencies to ensure peace."We want to announce that we have received information that there are elements that have already been mobilised to join the activities to cause chaos. This is aimed at creating a wrong perception in the eyes of the public that former president Zuma's supporters are anarchists," he said.

Meanwhile, News24 has reliably learnt that the same state advocate who successfully prosecuted fraudster Schabir Shaik will lead the corruption case against Zuma.

Spy tapes

Advocate Billy Downer, SC, a deputy director of public prosecutions in the Western Cape, will lead the State's case against Zuma.Downer is a veteran prosecutor who recently successfully convicted former Western Cape top cop Arno Lamoer.

The case against Zuma has spanned several years, with Patricia de Lille, now DA mayor of Cape Town but then a PAC MP, first telling Parliament in 1999 that the multibillion-rand arms deal could be suspect.

Since then, the matter has been kicked back and forth between courts.

On April 6, 2009, then National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Mokotedi Mpshe said recordings of telephone conversations between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka showed political interference in the decision to charge Zuma. The two were recorded discussing the timing of bringing charges against Zuma. The charges related to his alleged involvement in the country's multibillion-rand arms deal.

According to the NPA, the conversations provided evidence at the time of collusion against Zuma between former NPA officials and former president Thabo Mbeki. The charges were subsequently withdrawn just before Zuma was sworn in for his first term as president.

Charges reviewed

However, in 2016 the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria found that there was no reason for the NPA not to proceed with the prosecution.

Zuma and the NPA appealed this decision in the Supreme Court of Appeal. The court dismissed the appeal in October last year. This after Zuma and the NPA made an about-turn and said the decision not to prosecute him was irrational.

NPA boss Shaun Abrahams had to review the original charges and decide whether to go ahead with the case.

On March 16, Abrahams announced that the NPA had decided to prosecute because it believed there was a reasonable prospect of successful prosecution.

-- News24