Zuma gets hero's welcome

Johannesburg - Former deputy president Jacob Zuma was hoisted onto a makeshift podium outside the Johannesburg High Court on Monday to address about 3 000 supporters after judge president Bernard Ngoepe recused himself from the trial.

The crowd whistled and chanted "Lethu Mshini Wami" (Give me my gun).

After a short speech in Zulu explaining the court proceedings he led the crowd with the song "Letu Mshini Wami".

The crowd chanted "Zuma, Zuma, Zuma" when he pushed his way through them, got into his car and was driven away.

Family and friends of the alleged rape victim said that they were not yet ready to comment on Monday's turn of events, as they wanted to consult with her first.

Monday's proceedings had begun with police escorting Zuma's accuser, her faced hidden in a scarf, past several hundred Zuma supporters and about a dozen members of People Opposing Woman Abuse.

The accuser has not been publicly identified.

"We are sending out a strong message of support and solidarity to survivors of rape and violence," said Carrie Chelver, a spokesperson for People Opposing Woman Abuse.

"This sounds like a party," Chelver said, referring to the Zuma supporters dancing to a pop song written for him.

"Rape is not a party." "Jacob Zuma didn't rape that woman," one of those rallying in his support, 39-year-old Lucy Hanwani, said outside court on Monday.

"He was framed because they don't want him to be president.

"He fought for us long ago.

"He will deliver what we want - houses, education."

Security was tight. Streets around the downtown court building were closed. - Sapa/AP

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