PMB spellbound by Zuma trial

2008-09-12 00:00

A hush settled over Freedom Square, and at times you could hear a pin drop, as thousands of ANC President Jacob Zuma supporters listened intently for over two hours to the judgement broadcast live from the court room. In bars and restuarants across the city people gathered around television sets and radios

The crowd at Freedom Square were not expecting the live broadcast. Shortly after 10.05 am, Judge Chris Nicholson’s voice came over the mammoth loudspeakers mounted on the stage and a whispered message started going around “that’s the judge, that’s the judge”. Singing and toyi-toying stopped as people listened with rapt attention. There was the occasional disturbance as a new group arrived singing, but they soon quietened down.

The crowd clapped at some of the judge’s comments, such as when he said, “Was Mr [Penuell] Maduna on a frolic on his own?” and “the applicant [Zuma] was not incorrect in averring political meddling in his case.”

As Nicholson reached the end of his judgment and said he found the decision taken by the NPA to prosecute the applicant invalid, there was a roar of approval. People screamed, hugged each other; some cried. All around, vuvuzelas went off and groups broke into song.

People pushed to get closer to the ANC leaders and the flimsy barricades collapsed. Marshalls tried to restore order, but soon gave up, as it was difficult to be tough in an atmosphere of celebration.

Yesterday’s proceedings were carried out in the shadow of Zapiro’s cartoon depicting Zuma raping justice. Speakers referred to the cartoon with Cosatu’s Zwelinzima Vavi saying, “we want to see who are the real rapists of the judicial system. As the judge said it was not JZ who delayed the court it was the NPA and their political handlers.”

After Zuma had spoken, artists organised by the ANC Youth League kept the crowds entertained.

The afternoon traffic came to a standstill as buses arrived to pick up supporters who had come from every province in the country.

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