JOHANNESBURG -- The corruption trial of former South African president Jacob Zuma, who is currently in prison, has been postponed to August 10 as it is decided whether he must be physically present in the courtroom or can appear via video from where he is in detention.
Zuma asked that his trial be postponed until he could attend the case at the court in Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal province. Zuma claimed that proceedings held via a video link prevent him from properly consulting with his lawyers. Zuma is currently in Estcourt Correctional Center, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) away.
He is accused of receiving bribes from French arms manufacturer Thales during South Africa’s purchase of arms in 1999.
Before the corruption trial begins, the court must also rule on Zuma's application for lead prosecutor Billy Downer to recuse himself from the trial for alleged bias against Zuma.
Zuma is currently serving a 15-month prison sentence for defying an order by the country’s top court, the Constitutional Court, to testify before a commission probing allegations of corruption when he was president from 2009 to 2018.
The former president’s imprisonment earlier this month triggered protests that escalated into widespread rioting in KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s home province, and in Gauteng, the province that includes Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city.
At least 215 people died in the rioting and more than 2,500 people have been arrested for theft and vandalism. Order was restored last week after 2,500 army troops were deployed to Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
In a separate case, the Constitutional Court is considering Zuma's request to have his 15-month contempt of court sentence rescinded. Zuma’s lawyers have argued that the country’s apex court made errors when convicting and sentencing him.