Duduzane Zuma, the son of scandal-plagued former South African president Jacob Zuma, arrives in court ahead of being charged with corruption, in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 9,2018. REUTERS-Siphiwe Sibeko
Reuters

Duduzane Zuma, the son of former South African President Jacob Zuma, has been released on bail after being charged for corruption.

The Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court released the 34-year-old, who appeared in court with his legs shackled, on just under $7500 bail on Monday.

Duduzane has been asked to appear in court on January 24, 2019.

Local news agencies said lawyer Rudi Krause confirmed Duduzane was processed at the Johannesburg Central police station where he surrendered his passport as part of his bail agreement.

His court appearance marks a dramatic turnaround from Jacob Zuma’s nine years in power, when corruption allegations involving top officials in South Africa were rarely investigated.

Zuma’s successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has staked his reputation on rooting out corruption since becoming head of state in February.

Duduzane faces charges of corruption and conspiracy to commit corruption which his lawyers say he will contest.

They relate to allegations that he took former deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas to an October 2015 meeting with the Gupta business family, friends of his father, who tried to bribe Jonas in his presence.

The Guptas have denied that there was anything untoward in their relationship with former President Zuma, but their ties will be investigated as part of an influence-peddling inquiry due to start later this year.

The Guptas’ whereabouts are not publicly known, and an attempt to contact a legal representative for them was unsuccessful.

Duduzane, who has held senior positions in several Gupta businesses, was detained briefly at Johannesburg’s main airport late on Thursday over the allegations made by Jonas in 2016.

‘The Zuma family rep’

Ex-minister Jonas gave evidence that Duduzane orchestrated a meeting between himself and businessman Ajay Gupta in which he was offered $45m to become the South African finance minister.

Zuma has denied bribing Gupta, but said he attended the meeting.

He has a long history of involvement in Gupta family businesses, having directed 11 separate businesses in the empire which spans media, mining and computer equipment.

“He was the pivot between the Zuma and Gupta families,” David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, a nonprofit organization in Johannesburg, told the New York Times newspaper.

The Guptas have been the centre of multiple political scandals in South Africa, related to their alleged manipulation of the Zumas to wield undue political influence.

The charges indicate that the ruling African National Congress is serious about stamping out the corruption that ended the tenure of Jacob Zuma.

In February, Zuma resigned as president following weeks of public pressure to step down amid long-standing corruption allegations.

He was replaced by his former deputy, Ramaphosa.

Jacob Zuma was also in court last month on corruption charges relating to a $2.5bn arms deal from the 1990s. The elder Zuma denies wrongdoing in that case, and his supporters say he is the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.

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