Group holds vigil for Zuma before court case

“Of course” former president Jacob Zuma is having a “tough time” before the start of this court case, but according to MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus Zuma is a strong man and he is coping well.

“He has joked before that there is no word for ‘stress’ in Zulu. He doesn't show when he is stressed,” Niehaus told Netwerk24 at the vigil for Zuma outside the High Court Pietermaritzburg on Thursday evening.

He said Zuma was close by to ensure he would be on time for the case on Friday morning.

By 20:30 there were about 200 Zuma supporters singing and dancing in Freedom Park, opposite the courthouse.

The police and traffic police cordoned off the streets.

Members of MK put up posters with the slogan “Hands off the honourable Jacob Zuma: The father of RET”. Some of them didn't know what RET (radical economic transformation) stood for.

The group of gathered supporters grew as the night progressed and some of them said they would stay until their beloved Msholozi is done at court on Friday. He will appear with Thales South Africa, who will be represented by Christine Guerrier, on 16 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering/money laundering.

Thales South Africa is an affiliate of the French arms manufacturer Thales.

Niehaus said he would be in uniform again on Friday. He was wearing the scarf and cap that was specially made for former president Nelson Mandela’s centenary celebrations.

“Nelson Mandela would have wanted us to support our comrade in this hearing. He would also have insisted that the Constitution is implemented – that every South African is innocent until a court finds him guilty.

“But Mandela also would have wanted us to abide by the NPA and the court,” he said.

Bishop Timothy Bheki Ngcobo, a convenor of the vigil, was wearing a T-Shirt with the words “Wenzeni u Zuma?” (what has Zuma done?).

“If you think about this court case, it is to score political points. The allegations against Zuma are just rumours. He was the MEC for tourism (in KZN) when the alleged arms deal took place. How could he have signed it?”

The bishop said they expected more than 2 000 supporters at the court on Friday morning.

“We have buses coming from Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Free State. I have had contact with Zuma and he really appreciates the support.”

Carl Niehaus at the night vigil. (Isabel Venter. Netwerk24)

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