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Former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, will appear before the High Court of Durban on Friday to defend corruption charges leveled against him dating back to a fraught Dollars 2.5 bn arms deal in the mid-1990s.

Mr Zuma (75) is facing 16 fraud, racketeering, corruption and money-laundering charges that are linked to a 1999 multibillion-euro government arms deal.

Also in the dock was a representative of Thales, a French defence company accused of paying bribes to Zuma in the arms deal.

Mr Zuma believes the re-instatement of the charges which were dropped back in 2009, after reports of political interference, are once again politically motivated. That application - should it fail - is likely to be followed by an application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

After the hearing, Mr Zuma addressed the crowds who had come to stand alongside him at the court in his home province. Last month the party took to the North Gauteng High Court asking it to declare the arrangement between Zuma and the presidency invalid.

Police expect that more than 2,000 protesters could descend on the courthouse to voice support for Zuma, with the main opposition Democratic Alliance planning a counter-demonstration.

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Mabe said that Zuma was protected by the law and had a right to be considered innocent "unless proven otherwise".

"100% Not Guilty", was the slogan on at least one T-shirt worn by a supporter - a 2018 take on the old Zuma slogan "100% Zulu boy".

The speed with which prosecutors booked his day in court is a sign of the loss of control Mr Zuma has suffered since his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, became head of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in December.

Some supporters can be seen wearing ANC T-shirts in defiance of a call by the party that people not wear party regalia but to rather attend the protest march as individuals in support of the former president.

Black First Land First (BLF), a radical pro-Zuma group that has supported him through numerous scandals, said it expected 200 bus-loads of supporters to travel to the court ahead of his arrival. He resigned February 14 on the orders of his celebration, the African National Congress. "There are people who are plotting to have me arrested and placed in prison".

Since his election nine years ago, his opponents have fought a lengthy legal battle to have the charges reinstated.