Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2006-07-28 Reporter: Giordano Stolley Reporter: Sapa Reporter:

Sleepy Hollow Prepares for Zuma Trial



Mail and Guardian




Giordano Stolley, Sapa 

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KwaZulu-Natal's top leadership of the tripartite alliance will be out in force to support the African National Congress' deputy president as he goes on trial for corruption next week. If the word of the tripartite alliance of the ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is to be believed, thousands are expected to start descending on KwaZulu-Natal's capital city of Pietermaritzburg before the trial even begins.

Known as Sleepy Hollow, Pietermaritzburg will be a hive of activity as the SACP has its 85th anniversary celebrations with a rally at the city's Wadley Stadium.

Along with SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande and Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi, Jacob Zuma will hold centre stage.

From 6pm on Sunday the city centre is expected to be packed with thousands of Zuma supporters who will turn out for an all night vigil.

The ANC's KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary general Senzo Mchunu said at a press conference in Durban on Thursday that 33 buses had been arranged in Pietermaritzburg alone to pick up Zuma supporters while another 17 were coming from Durban.

More than 500 marshals had been assigned to help with crowd control and the police are confident they will be able to handle any eventuality.

Police spokesperson Director Bala Naidoo said: "We have finalised our plans and we are more than ready for taking care of the safety and security of this particular trial.

"We will be focusing on a number of issues, one being the night vigil which will take place in Freedom Square, the second will be traffic management, and the access to the courts will be restricted."

However discipline was an issue that was stressed by Mchunu.

"We want this support to be characterised by discipline."

He said "undisciplined members" would be held accountable for their actions and that regional leadership had been "tasked with maintaining discipline".

Mchunu said the planning of the events had been so detailed that meetings had been held with hawkers to ensure that supporters will be able to wet their parched lips and satisfy their appetites.

If there were any illusions about disunity within the alliance, Mchunu was at pains to point out that the support being coordinated for Zuma came from the highest echelons of the alliance.

"We are coordinating support for the ANC deputy president. We are coordinating this support following many meetings. We are making it known that this support has been made on the basis of clear decisions taken by the alliance," he said.

Durban will not be spared the hive of activity surrounding the trial as the Friends of Jacob Zuma trust stages a concert on Saturday at Kingsmead Stadium and the SACP hosts a dinner to precede its rally in Pietermaritzburg.

With 35 seats allocated to the media in the court, cameras and notepads will be seen in abundance as the media descend on the city.

How long the Zuma trial will last is up to the court, but the National Prosecuting Authority have filed papers calling for a postponement while it collects evidence and fights legal battles surrounding controversial search and seizure raids by the Scorpions.

Some of the biggest names in the legal fraternity will also be in town on Monday to do battle.

Billy Downer, Anton Steynberg and George Baloyi will head the prosecution, while Durban advocate Kessie Naidu, also known as the "Silver Fox," is representing the French arms manufacturer and supplier Thint while advocate Kemp J Kemp will represent Zuma.

Kemp has already experienced success with his client, having successfully argued for his acquittal in a high-profile rape case earlier this year.

Downer's success came in 2005 when he led the prosecution against convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik, Zuma's confidante.

But while the best legal minds will be in town and thousands of supporters will converge on the Sleepy Hollow, all, including the press, are waiting to see who will preside over the case.

Judge Herbert Msimang has been tipped as favourite for the hot seat.   

With acknowledgements to Giordano Stolley, Sapa and Mail & Guardian.