The case against Zuma links back to events that played out from 1997, when a French arms company called Thompson-CSF, now known as Thales, scored a R2,6bn contract to provide four navy frigates to South Africa as part of the wider multi-billion rand arms deal.
As corruption rumours grew, the state alleged that Thales had agreed in 2002 to pay R500,000 to Zuma, then the country’s deputy president, for his “political protection” in any investigation – a deal allegedly brokered by his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.
It is further the state’s case against Zuma that Shaik and his Nkobi Holdings made 783 payments to Zuma totalling over R4m in the 10-year period between October 25 1995 and July 1 2005.
In return for these payments, the state claims, Zuma abused his formal position as MEC and as deputy president of the ANC to do unlawful favours for Shaik, who was jailed for his role in the matter, and Nkobi Holdings.
In court papers filed earlier, Zuma however suggested there could be innocent explanations for the meetings that he held to allegedly unlawfully assist Shaik’s business interests.