South African court issues arrest warrant for ex-president Zuma

Jacob Zuma

A South African high court in Pietermaritzburg has issued a warrant of arrest for former president Jacob Zuma, after he missed a court appearance on Tuesday on grounds of needing medical treatment.

Mr. Zuma,  has been charged with crimes including corruption, racketeering and money-laundering and was expected at the pre-trial hearing on Tuesday but was not present due to bad-health, according to his lawyer.

His lawyer presented the judge with a sick note from what he said was a military hospital, but the judge questioned whether the note was valid or even written by a doctor.

State lawyer Billy Downer, while arguing for the warrant, said the court would need to satisfy itself about Mr Zuma’s medical condition through an inquiry.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) argued that his “sick-note” was inadmissible because the date on it seemed to have been altered.

The warrant, granted by Judge Dhaya Pillay will only come into effect if the court determines that Mr Zuma gave false evidence about his health or fails to appear in court on May 6.

Mr Zuma has been charged with corruption linked to a 1990s arms deal.

The arms deal took place in 1999, the year Mr Zuma moved from being a provincial minister to deputy president.

He is accused of accepting 783 illegal payments from French arms company Thales through his former financial adviser Shabir Shaik who was convicted in relation to the same crimes.

Mr Zuma denied any wrongdoing.

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