Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s former president, will appear at the Durban High Court on Friday to face more than a dozen corruption charges that date back to a fraught $2.5bn arms deal in the mid 1990s.
Zuma, 75, faces 16 charges of corruption, racketeering and fraud, including taking bribes from a French arms manufacturer in a set of accusations that have long dogged his political career.
The French manufacturer will also be charged with corruption. Company representatives are expected to appear in court alongside Zuma.
Zuma’s expected court appearance has been welcomed by South African civil society and trade unions, including the powerful National Union of Metal Workers (NUMSA).
In February, Zuma resigned as president of South Africa following weeks of public pressure to step down amid long-standing corruption allegations.
However, Zuma continues to command immense support among some South Africans, with thousands expected to attend a pro-Zuma march on Friday.
On Thursday, members of the Black First Land First (BLF) party are expected to hold a vigil for Zuma outside the court.
BLF has long maintained that Zuma is being victimised for trying to transform the economy and improve the lives of the poor.
For its part, the African National Congress (ANC) has distanced itself from the proceedings.
The ANC’s decision to steer clear of Zuma is in stark contrast to its previous public displays of support and defence of Zuma during the 2006 rape trial and previous attempts to charge him for corruption.
Zuma became president in 2009 shortly after the charges were first dropped. Civil society and opposition parties have worked tirelessly to have the charges reinstated.
He has always denied any wrongdoing.