Saturday, November 12, 2005


Supporters cheer Zuma at court.
By Justin Pearce BBC News website, Durban.

Protesters urged the judges to be impartial. The show of unity that the ANC leadership has been attempting over the last few weeks went up in smoke in the morning. The smoke came from a T-shirt bearing the face of President Thabo Mbeki - and the people who burnt it outside the Durban magistrate's court were waving the flag of Mr Mbeki's own party, the ANC. The T-shirt burners were among 1,000 or so supporters of former deputy president Jacob Zuma, who at that moment was inside the court while his lawyers wrangled with the prosecution over legal technicalities surrounding the corruption charges that he faces.

The demonstration had begun on an unseasonably miserable evening on Monday, and the apartheid-era tower block of the court seemed even less inviting than normal. At sunset, there was just a small group of people trying to put up a marquee. But by 2030 local time, the buses had started rolling in - and the passengers soon began to make the streets their own.

Zuma is fighting for his political life. All felt that Mr Zuma had had a bad deal so far, even if their loyalty to the ANC made them stop short of condemning the government outright. "The only way for him to prove his innocence is by going on trial - but the process has been unfair to him, his family and his supporters," said a man who had travelled more than 300km to get to the protest.


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