- Thales has lost its KwaZulu-Natal High Court bid to challenge its charges of racketeering alongside Jacob Zuma
- The Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed the attempt with costs earlier this week
- This was the final hurdle in the way of the former president's corruption trial
The KwaZulu-Natal High Court, sitting in Pietermaritzburg, has opted to dismiss with costs Thales' legal challenge against its racketeering charges.
The French arms company is facing corruption charges alongside former president Jacob Zuma.
The State argues that the company had controversially agreed to pay the politician a R500 000 a year bribe in exchange for protection from any possible investigation stemming from SA's multibillion-rand arms deal.
This legal attempt to avoid the trial was the final hurdle hindering the long-awaited former statesman's trial.
The company had secured a R2.6 billion contract to supply four navy frigates to the government as part of a R60 billion deal over a decade ago that was riddled with corruption.
The court ruled that the company will need to face charges in SA over the allegedly corrupt payments made to the ex-president which is reported to have occurred over the space of a decade.
Judge Alsa Bezuidenhout says that there was reasonable and probable cause to believe that Thales had “directly or indirectly or with common purpose, participated in the enterprise run by Mr Schabir Shaik through a pattern of racketeering activity."
The trial, which sees Zuma facing a plethora of charges, may kick off as soon as next month with The South African reporting that NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema welcomed the ruling, adding that “we now look forward to the criminal hearing.”
Earlier, Briefly.co.za reported that Inkosi Simphiwe Zuma has encouraged his uncle to appeal the ruling that will see him facing the Thales corruption trial.
The Pietermaritzburg High Court had denied Zuma's appeal for a permanent stay of prosecution in the arms deal saga.
IOL reports that Inkosi feels the former president would have a tough time during court proceedings, with the odds stacked against him:
“You cannot continue with such a case if it is clear that there are people who are hellbent on destroying Msholozi (Zuma)."
However, there is no reason to believe that Jacob Zuma will be taking his nephew's advice, with no indication of any intention to appeal the ruling.
Speaking during a memorial for the late Robert Mugabe, Zuma had claimed that he was facing relentless persecution because he had supported land reform and the creation of the BRICS Bank.
While this might be his view, the court deemed it necessary for the ex-president to explain himself over the controversy.
The trial goes ahead as planned, with Zuma facing 18 charges relating to fraud and corruption.
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