The KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg has dismissed with costs French arms company Thales' bid to challenge the racketeering charge it faces along with former president Jacob Zuma.
The case brought by Thales, which is being represented by Oscar Pistorius' former defence advocate Barry Roux, represented the only barrier standing in the way of Zuma's long-awaited trial actually proceeding.
Thales has yet to comment on the decision. Should it elect not to appeal, the Zuma and Thales corruption case could start as early as April this year.
It is the State's case that Thales agreed to pay Zuma a R500 000-a-year bribe, in exchange for his "political protection" from any potential investigation of South Africa's multibillion-rand arms deal. Thales, then known as Thompson-CSF, had scored a R2.6-billion contract to provide four navy frigates to SA's government in 1997, as part of that deeply controversial R60-billion deal.