Police plan to beef up security in and around the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday for the appearance of African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma, KwaZulu-Natal police said on Wednesday.

“Strict measures have been put in place to ensure that the general public, the business community and the supporters are protected prior, during and after the court case,” said Superintendent Henry Budhram.

He said police and other roleplayers had met to discuss security and had vowed to ensure that normal activities “proceed unhindered” outside the court.

Portions of the following roads would closed as a result of the case –Longmarket Street, Commercial Road, Church Street, Boschoff Street, Henrietta Street , Archbell Street and the vicinity immediately in front of the High Court.

On Tuesday, the ANC said it expected at least 5000 supporters to gather outside the court on Thursday night, before Judge Chris Nicholson’s ruling on whether the decision to charge Zuma was lawful.

The ANC’s provincial secretary general Senzo Mchunu urged supporters to “continue displaying the good behaviour that they have shown in all past appearances irrespective of the outcome of judgment handed down on Friday.”

He said ANC top officials and members of the party’s national executive committee, its provincial executive committee and leaders of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the South African Communist Party and the South African National Civic Organisation would attend the vigil and a subsequent rally outside the court buildings.

Mchunu expressed support for recent protests by the party’s eThekwini region — which has staged marches on police stations and courts in the greater Durban area.

On Wednesday, the provincial leadership will join a march to the Durban offices of the National Prosecuting Authority to demand that the charges be dropped. Zuma faces a charge of racketeering, four charges of corruption, a charge of money laundering and 12 charges of fraud related to the multi-billion rand arms government arms deal.

He was charged in 2005 but that case was struck from the role in 2006. He was re-charged in December 2007. A charge of racketeering and two counts of corruption are also faced by two Thint companies — Thint Holding (Southern Africa) Pty Ltd and Thint (Pty) Ltd — the South African subsidiaries of the French arms manufacturer Thales International (formerly Thomson-CFS).