The African National Congress (ANC) expressed confidence on Friday that the Pietermaritzburg High Court would rule that the decision to prosecute its president Jacob Zuma was unlawful.

“It’s been eight years now and a child has already been born and gone to school. This is not a game we are playing. It’s about a man’s life,” said ANC spokeswoman Jessie Duarte.

“We would like to move on now. We are not going to ask Mr Zuma to withdraw his candidacy for the election… because he didn’t take the decision on his own… the decision was taken at Polokwane by the ANC,” she told reporters in Pietermaritzburg.

She reiterated that, in the ANC’s eyes, Zuma was innocent and that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) did not act legally.

“Our hopes are high that the charges would be thrown out.”

Meanwhile, thousands of supporters were singing and toyi-toying outside the court where Judge Chris Nicholson will deliver his judgment on an application to declare unlawful the decision to prosecute Zuma on corruption and other charges.

The police said they had prepared for a crowd of 15,000. Superintendent Henry Budhram said there had been no incidents of violence during the Thursday night vigil. Earlier this week, a march by Zuma supporters turned violent in Durban and two people were arrested on charges of public violence.

“We have policemen from all over the province, particularly those stationed in Pietermaritzburg here to ensure a peaceful protest. So far, we didn’t see any protesters carrying sticks or any other weapons,” said Budhram.

ANC leaders started arriving outside the court alongside supporters, some carrying umbrellas to protect themselves against a light drizzle.

Television camera crews, photographers and journalists were setting up shop, watching a group of Zuma supporters toyi-toying and singing.

Heavily-armed police were keeping a close watch and roads around the court had been closed.