As he made his way, his supporters in the public gallery chanted: “Zuma! Zuma! Zuma!”
It was 09:25 on Friday when former president Jacob Zuma, dressed in a crisp black suit and a red tie, stepped into the dock of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban.
The former president acknowledged them with a smile and greeted, as journalists swarmed around him and took photographs.
Zuma had the support of senior African National Congress leaders in the province as well as former Cabinet ministers.
He was flanked by former cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Des van Rooyen and Eastern Cape ANC heavyweight Andile Lungisa as he walked up the steps to the court building.
Inside Courtroom A, former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng could be seen sitting on a bench near ANC KwaZulu-Natal leader Sihle Zikalala.
The Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association was also represented in the form of Carl Niehaus and Mabel Rweqana.
The proceedings got under way at 09:30 but was over after about 10 minutes. The case was postponed to June 8.
State advocate Billy Downer, SC, said the prosecution was ready for the trial.
Downer, who is the same advocate who successfully prosecuted fraudster Schabir Shaik, told the court that he was aware of the review application that Zuma needed to file.
Zuma and Christine Guerrier of French arms manufacturer Thales, which is Zuma’s co-accused in the case, were released on warning.
Guerrier flew from Paris to attend the case.
Meanwhile, Zuma’s legal representative said they intended to file an application to review the decision by NPA boss Shaun Abrahams to prosecute him. The application is expected to be filed on May 15.
After the case was postponed, religious leaders who attended the case in support of Zuma formed a guard of honour as he walked out of the court.
Zuma addressed hundreds of his supporters clad in ANC regalia. Some shouted: “We love you”, while others chanted: “Zuma! Zuma! Zuma!”
His supporters had gathered since 08:00 at King Dinizulu Park ahead of a march organised by the National Interfaith Council of South Africa.
Many pro-Zuma supporters were dressed in African National Congress colours and waved party flags.
This, despite a statement by the party’s highest decision-making body, the national executive committee, earlier this month. It called on party members who wanted to show their support, to do so in their individual capacities and not through party structures.
The statement did not mention Zuma by name.
Others held placards which indicated that they had travelled from as far afield as the Northern Cape to participate in the march.
One of the march organisers, Bishop Bheki Ngcobo of the National Interfaith Council of South Africa, said he was behind Zuma because he supported radical economic transformation (RET).
Zuma is facing 16 charges relating to 783 payments he allegedly received in connection with the controversial arms deal.
Speaking in isiZulu to a large crowd gathered outside the court shortly after his appearance, Zuma defended his name and said it had been dragged through the mud.
He said the case had been reinstated for political reasons.
Zuma also pointed out that 13 years had passed since he last appeared in court for the same charges and blamed opposition parties for the case’s return to court.
Opposition parties turned to the courts because they had failed in Parliament, he told the crowd.
He claimed he was innocent, even though he was being treated like a criminal.
”Our country’s Constitution states that the accused is innocent until proven guilty,” he said.
“However, there are some people, even people whom I trusted, who have judged me as guilty already. The truth will be revealed in time.”