An unemployed South African man appeared in court Friday charged with conspiracy to commit murder in a mysterious alleged plot to assassinate 19 politicians and other prominent figures.
Local media said President Jacob Zuma was on the list of targets, along with several ministers and the Gupta business family who are alleged to have influenced government appointments and contracts.
Elvis Ramosebudi, 33, wearing a dark jacket, appeared in Johannesburg Magistrates Court after being arrested on Wednesday.
He was remanded in custody and the case was postponed until May 2.
The elite Hawks police investigation unit said the defendant had sent letters to companies asking for 140 million rand ($10.5 million) to fund assassinations of "various members from the cabinet, state owned entities and prominent South Africans".
It said the killings were to be carried out by snipers, and added that Ramosebudi was a founder of the Anti-State Capture Death Squad Alliance (ASCDSA), a previously unknown group.
"State capture" refers to the alleged corruption by associates of President Zuma who have been accused of using government contracts for personal gain.
State prosecutors asked that Ramosebudi undergo a psychological evaluation.
They said mining giant Anglo American was among the companies he had approached for funds.