Hero's welcome as Zuma returns from medical trip

Former president Jacob Zuma told his supporters that he's still recovering. Zuma has returned from Cuba where he's been receiving medical attention. Courtesy #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - Former president Jacob Zuma returned home on Saturday after a month-long trip to Cuba for medical treatment and declared he was not afraid of prison.

Zuma, 77, was slapped with an arrest warrant earlier this month after his lawyers claimed he was too ill to travel back to South Africa for a pre-trial hearing on corruption charges.

A high court issued the warrant after it questioned the authenticity of his sick note, but said it would not be executed until the case is set to resume on May 6.

A crowd of people gathered at Johannesburg's OR Tambo international airport to welcome Zuma.

"I am not afraid of prison," Zuma told his supporters in Zulu before being ushered out of the arrivals hall.

READ: Zuma supporters feel politically persecuted

He raised his thumbs and grinned from behind a pair of dark glasses as a singing crowd gathered around him.

Zuma is alleged to have taken bribes of R4-million related to a $3.4 billion arms deal in 1999 when he was deputy president.

In all, he faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering related to the purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military equipment.

The arrest warrant was just the latest twist in a case that has seen many legal turns over the past decade and a half.

Critics have dubbed Zuma the "Teflon president" for his reputed ability to evade judicial reckoning.

READ: Zuma backers organise mass action in his defence

He has also been accused of orchestrating the systematic plunder of government coffers during his rule in a scandal known as "state capture".

"(Zuma) has always respected the courts," supporter Carl Niehaus told reporters before the ex-president's arrival.

"There is no need to vilify him and try and turn him into a fugitive of justice."

Little has been disclosed about the current state of Zuma's health or the type of treatment he has been receiving.

He was forced to step down in 2018 by the ANC after a nine-year reign marked by corruption allegations and dwindling popularity.

The Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association says it will continue to stand by former president Jacob Zuma. His supporters gathered to welcome him back at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Courtesy #DStv403

Source
AFP