Surrounded by a large entourage, Zuma left the courtroom to address his supporters, telling them that the charges were "politically motivated".
The ex-president, who was forced to resign just seven weeks ago, has been charged with 16 counts of graft stemming from a multi-billion-dollar arms contract dating back to before he became president.
The charges were withdrawn weeks before he became president in 2009.
However, the Pretoria High Court Court reinstated them a year ago, ruling that the decision to withdraw them was irrational.
Zuma is accused of taking bribes from French manufacturer Thales during his time as a provincial economy minister and then deputy ANC president.
Thales, which supplied naval vessels as part of the deal, also faces charges with corruption and company representative Christine Guerrirer appeared in court alongside Zuma as accused number two in the trial.
Zuma's lawyers confirmed to the court Friday that he would appeal against the decision to prosecute him -- the latest move of a long legal battle to head off the charges and avoid a trial could send him to jail.