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Former South Africa deputy president pleads not guilty to rape charges

[JURIST] During a closed session of the Johannesburg High Court on Monday, former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma [party profile] pleaded not guilty to charges that he raped a guest staying at his house. The guest, a woman who had known Zuma since she was five years old, testified about the circumstances of the incident during the same session. The trial has been delayed several times since beginning on February 13, as three judges have stepped down: one for having written a warrant [JURIST report] in the corruption case against Zuma [JURIST report], one for personal reasons, and one because Zuma has fathered a child to his sister.

While South African advocacy groups such as People Opposing Women Abuse [advocacy website] support the charges as an example of the law applying equally to all citizens, Zuma remains a popular member of the African National Congress (ANC) [party website], while he performs no executive functions due to his current legal status. At one time Zuma was heralded as the successor to President Thabo Mbeki [BBC profile] until the conviction of his financial advisor [JURIST report] for corruption prompted his removal from office [JURIST report] last year. BBC News has more.

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