‘What have I done?’ — Zuma asks as corruption trial begins

Jacob Zuma, former South African president, says he will be proven innocent of the corruption charges brought against him.

Zuma is being tried before a Durban high court on a 16-count charge of corruption relating to a 30 billion rand ($2.20 billion) arms deal arranged in the late 1990s.

Speaking to his supporters outside the court on Friday, Zuma claimed his opponents were telling lies, adding that the judiciary and politicians believe he does not have rights.

“What have I done?” Zuma asked? “The truth will come out.”

“I am innocent until proven guilty.”

The court adjourned the hearing until June 8.

Zuma’s legal team and lawyers for the state agreed to the postponement to give both sides time to prepare their submissions relating to charges including fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

He is alleged to have sought bribes from French arms manufacturer Thales to support an extravagant lifestyle. His financial adviser at the time was found guilty of soliciting those bribes in 2005 and Zuma was later sacked as deputy president.

In a controversial manner, the case was dropped and Zuma went ahead to become the president.

In 1999, the South African government announced its largest ever post-apartheid arms deal, signing contracts totalling 30bn rand ($5bn; £2.5bn) to modernise its national defence force

The deal involved companies from Germany, Italy, Sweden, the UK, France and South Africa.

Allegations of bribery over the deal dogged the governments of both Zuma and one of his predecessors, Thabo Mbeki.

In February 2018, Zuma stepped down after pressure from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) on him to resign.