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South Africa Prosecutors, Zuma Lawyers Request Corruption Hearing Delay


FILE: Former South African president Jacob Zuma addresses the media in his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal on July 4, 2021.

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Prosecutors and lawyers for South Africa's jailed former president Jacob Zuma, who has been in hospital since Friday, have jointly asked a judge to postpone his scheduled appearance this week in a corruption trial, his foundation said on Monday.

Zuma, whose jailing last month on a contempt of court case led to widespread looting, was expected to appear at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday in an arms deal corruption case dating from his time as vice president.

The 79-year-old is serving a 15-month sentence at Estcourt prison in KwaZulu-Natal province but was moved to a hospital on Friday for medical observation.

"The NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) on behalf of all the parties sent a joint letter to Hon Judge Koen reflecting the parties' agreement to postpone the hearing," the Foundation said on Twitter.

The request had been made because the former president was in hospital, it added.

NPA spokesman Mthuzi Mahaga declined to comment on whether a postponement request had been made. The South African Judiciary and Zuma's lawyers did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The Pietermaritzburg High Court is in KwaZulu-Natal - Zuma's home province - where he enjoys strong support and which was the centre of almost a week of looting and arson that spread to other parts of the country and claimed over 300 lives.

His appearance could once again cause tensions and violent protests, especially in Pietermaritzburg.

Zuma faces charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering over a $2 billion arms deal involving French company Thales (then known as Thomson-CSF).

Zuma and Thales both have pleaded not guilty. (Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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