Former president Jacob Zuma insists that he has never committed any crime.
Speaking in his hometown of Nkandla during his welcome home prayer session, which was organised by the National Interfaith Council of South Africa in partnership with the Commission for Religious Affairs, Zuma told the crowd that the only crime he committed was to fight against the apartheid regime.
“Even at that time I didn’t commit any crime, I was fighting for my freedom. I spent ten years, six months (in jail) without any problem,” he said.
Zuma said he had been accused of crimes since 2005, yet no evidence had been found to support the claims.
“They investigated until they became tired because they couldn’t find anything,” he said.
His only fear was that sometimes judges convicted innocent people.
“I’m not talking bad about judges, but we all know that sometimes it happens that they convict someone who hasn’t done anything but another court could come to a different conclusion,” he said.
However, he told those gathered at the venue that even though people accused him of committing crimes, this did not scare him.
“I’ve never committed any crime. There’s no criminal in my family. A criminal has never been born in my family. We are believers and we pray when we’ve committed any sins,” he said.
Zuma is facing 16 charges relating to 783 payments, which he allegedly received in connection with the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal.
He will appear again at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on June 8. He maintains that he is not corrupt.
“Whatever people say about my name, I don’t hear a thing. If they said I committed something that I did, I would have been stressed. That would have even shown on my face. I’m not corrupt. If someone says Zuma is corrupt, he is just saying it, Zuma is not corrupt,” he said.
He said the latest claim of his alleged corruption was linked to his homestead in the rural town.
“They never expected anyone to build such a house in Nkandla and they concluded that I stole the money, whereas I did not. They investigated but they never found the money that they accused me of stealing,” he said.
Zuma told hundreds of churchgoers, ANC members and religious leaders who attended the prayer that the term “state capture” was misleading.
“I have a problem with that. The state consists of three organs, Parliament, the judiciary and the executive. If you tell the country that there’s state capture in South Africa, you mean those three organs are captured. That’s wrong,” he said.
Zuma said no one had stood up and said all three organs of the state had been captured.
“The name state capture is misused to tarnish the image of other people,” he said.
The Gupta family — which Zuma was associated with during his tenure as president — is at the centre of several state capture investigations.
“I’ve heard that there was a certain family which spoke to a few people including ministers. You can’t just say that by speaking to those people the state has been captured.”
He reiterated that South Africans would only be free once they had economic freedom.
“If the economy of the country is not in the hands of the owners of the land then you’re not free.”
He suggested that the freedom to vote was not enough.
“God gave us South Africa because he loved us as his people, and he gave us our own wealth. We can’t just sit and watch our wealth being dug up every day and exported,” he said.
He said expropriation of land without compensation would end poverty among black South Africans.
“Poverty among blacks was brought here when the land was taken away. The lack of land has brought crime and poverty among our people,” he said.
He said the agreement to claim for land that was taken after 1913 should be revised.
“A vast majority of land was taken in 1800,” he said.
Zuma said he had taken a decision to fight for the right of anyone who was oppressed, especially black people, until his death. — Sapa