Jacob Zuma had a peculiar band of supporters huddled around him when he appeared in the High Court in Durban on Monday — their combined credentials ranging, allegedly, from fraud and corruption to state capture.
Seated together in the benches alongside the dock in which Zuma stood with his co-accused Christine Guerrier (vice-president of dispute resolution and litigation for Thales), were the former president's staunchest supporters — former communications minister Faith Muthambi, former cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Des van Rooyen, and former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.
Muthambi and Van Rooyen were booted from their Cabinet positions after Zuma resigned as head of state. Both stand accused of a host of allegations for their links to the controversial Gupta family and their role in state capture.
Mahumapelo, whose province was brought to a standstill by protesters demanding his resignation, also faces numerous allegations of corruption.
Also present was disbanded ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sihle Zikalala and former SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
Zuma arrived in court with a wide smile, greeting his lawyers before entering the dock, where he turned to greet the media with a nod of his head. He turned to his supporters sitting on his left, extending a handshake to those who came to embrace him.
The court proceedings focused mainly around the former president's money woes.
State advocate Billy Downer said the prosecution was "disappointed" that matters were postponed after Zuma's first appearance in April to allow for him to make an application to have National Prosecuting Authority boss Shaun Abrahams' decision to prosecute reviewed — which Zuma's legal team did not, in the end, do.
He said the state was ready to continue, but would also need time to consider representations made by Thales, which only arrived on Thursday.
The case was remanded until July 27, allowing Zuma time to finalise who is paying his legal bills. Both the EFF and the DA have brought cases against Zuma asking for a termination of the state's funding.
Outside the courts, about 2,000 supporters had gathered awaiting an address from Zuma.
When he was seen emerging from the court house, the crowd broke into cheers, chanting his name. He made his way through the crowd, waving at supporters while he made his way to a stage set up for him on the roadside.
There, messages of support were delivered by Mahumapelo, assault-accused ANC Eastern Cape leader Andile Lungisa, MKMVA spokesman Carl Niehaus and Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama.
The focus of the rhetoric was on radical economic transformation and land expropriation, each speaker pegging Zuma as the leader of the "revolution" against so-called "white monopoly capital", a term introduced into the national discourse by Bell Pottinger while the British PR firm was muddying the waters concerning state-capture accusations.
After about an hour, Zuma took centre-stage to a wave of applause. He maintained his innocence and continued the narrative that he is being victimised.
"But here, something rare is happening — that a case that was laid long ago, a decade passes, and then the case returns... I long to hear how I became a part of this, as everything to do with the arms deal was done at national level; I was still a provincial leader. I was MEC of economic affairs and tourism, and that has nothing to do with arms," he said.
"All of them dragged my name in the dirt in an incredible way. Some call me corrupt, but they don't say what it is that led them to say that. In fact, some of them — I know in fact that it is them who are corrupt — I could easily let out their secrets."