After the 75-year-old’s 15-minute appearance at the High Court in Durban, the case was adjourned until 8 June.
He faces 16 counts of corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering, which dogged his presidency and were reinstated in 2016.
Mr Zuma, who was forced out of office in February, denies any wrongdoing.
His supporters descended on the city to rally for him, while his critics think court action is long overdue.
After the hearing, Mr Zuma addressed the crowds who had come to stand alongside him at the court in his home province.
“I have never seen it before where someone is charged with a crime, those charges are dropped and then years later those same charges are re-instated,” he said, speaking in Zulu. “This is a just a political conspiracy,”
He then led the crowd in song and dance.