A vigil will be held in Durban on Thursday night ahead of former president Jacob Zuma’s court appearance on Friday.
The vigil is expected to be held at Albert Park, which is within walking distance of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban, where Zuma will face 16 charges relating to 783 payments, which, it is claimed, he received in connection with the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal.
The charges were dropped in 2009.
However, embattled National Prosecuting Authority boss Shaun Abrahams announced on March 16 that the charges against Zuma would be reinstated.
He said Zuma would be prosecuted for one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud.
Abrahams said he was of the view that there are reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution of Zuma.
The charges were withdrawn just before Zuma was sworn in for his first term as president of the country.
Organisers working with police
Arms deal manufacturer Thint is expected to appear alongside Zuma on Friday.
The National Interfaith Council of South Africa, in partnership with the Commission for Religious Affairs, on Wednesday unveiled activities it had planned ahead of Zuma’s court appearance.
Bishop Bheki Ngcobo told reporters at a press briefing that they were working with law enforcement agencies to ensure peace.
“We want to announce that we have received information that there are elements that have already been mobilised to join the activities to cause chaos. This is aimed at creating a wrong perception in the eyes of the public that former president Zuma’s supporters are anarchists,” he said.
He said it was for that reason that they were working with law enforcement agencies.
Ngcobo said the vigil would start at 18:30.
“Secondly, we would lead a march from King Dinuzulu Park [formerly known as Botha Park] to the Durban High Court on Friday morning,” he said.
He said the march would start at 07:00.
Ngcobo said the “mother of all prayers” would be held outside court on Friday before the start of proceedings.
He revealed that they were expecting not less than 100 buses to transport people to the vigil and march.
He said “Zuma supporters” would be coming from across the country.
Ngcobo said throughout Zuma’s term of office, the former president had called for religious leaders to play a role in rebuilding the country.
“He believed that religious leaders had to join hands in ensuring that government services reach the grass-root communities to whom they are destined,” he said.
Bishop Vusi Dube said police would monitor both the vigil and the march.
‘Champion’ of radical economic transformation
Dube said they supported Zuma when he appeared in court for the same charges in 2009 before he became the president of the country.
At the time, night vigils were held and thousands of people would gather outside court.
Dube said they would support Zuma now as they did then.
Delangokubona Business Forum national chair Thabani Mzulwini said the forum would be part of the activities because Zuma had championed radical economic transformation.
“We support him because of his theory that the economy of the country must be returned to black people,” he said.
Muzi Hlengwa of the National Funeral Practitioners Association of South Africa said the organisation would also be part of the activities on Thursday and Friday.
Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama said: “The processes to support Zuma [will] be peaceful.”
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele confirmed to News24 that police would be deployed to monitor the night vigil on Thursday and march to the court on Friday.
“There will be a maximum deployment of police to make sure that there’s no disorder during the vigil and march,” she said.
— News 24