Zuma supporters in ANC colours at night vigil

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Addressing a crowd of around 5 000 supporters who had turned out for his appearance on corruption, money laundering and racketeering charges over payments totalling R1.38-million from convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik, Zuma said he was "innocent until proven otherwise".

The ruling party leadership had instructed Zuma to resign in February after a leadership crisis that destabilized the ANC, which was already weakened by other scandals during Zuma's presidency.

The postponement, which was agreed on by all three legal teams, came as Zuma's team looked to finalise its application for a review of the decision to reinstate charges against Zuma, which they say will be completed by the end of May.

However, the opponents of the ex-South African leader think that the court trial is long overdue.

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At 9.25am, the first former president of South Africa ever to sit in a courtroom dock entered Court A of the Durban High Court.

Thales, which supplied naval vessels as part of the deal, also faces charges with corruption and a company representative appeared in court alongside Zuma.

In a statement‚ Edward said: "As a member of the ANC myself I shall be attending court in my own ANC shirt unfortunately leadership". Zuma is accused of taking bribes from French arms maker Thales over a contract worth 4 billion euros ($5 billion) during his time as a provincial economy minister and then deputy ANC president.

Mr Zuma's remaining supporters argue that he is being targeted for backing a radical economic reform agenda.

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Zuma is a Zulu and has his ancestral home in eastern KwaZulu-Natal, the province which makes up the bedrock of his support base.

While a lengthy court battle is expected, the spectacle of Zuma appearing before a judge less than two months after his resignation was a victory for opposition figures and activists who have fought for years to call him to account.

The ANC, led by new president Cyril Ramaphosa, is keen to distance itself from the controversy as it prepares to contest the national elections in a year's time.

State prosecutor Billy Downer suggested that Zuma's trial start on November 12, though a lawyer for Zuma said the defense would not agree to any trial date for now. But the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, challenged the decision to set aside the charges, and in 2016, it was judged "irrational" by the High Court - a ruling that the Supreme Court upheld past year.

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