JACOB ZUMA, former South Africa’s president, late Wednesday night, handed himself over to the police, to begin 15 months jail sentence handed on him for contempt of court, by the country’s Constitutional Court, which found him guilty of contempt. Zuma defied the court’s order to appear in an inquiry on corruption charges against him while in office.
Zuma, 79, whose tenure as president, ended in 2018, was enmeshed in corruption allegations. He was accused of conspiring with politicians and businessmen who influenced his decisions. He appeared once at the inquiry, and subsequently failed to appear. Justice Raymond Zondo, who headed the inquiry, then requested the Constitutional Court to intervene.
While ruling on the case, Justice Sisi Khampepe, was critical about Zuma’s refusal to appear in court to explain his actions. Rather than appear himself, Khampepe said he “elected instead to make provocative, unmeritorious and vituperative statements that constituted a calculated efforts to impugn the integrity of the judiciary”.
And added: “I am left with no option but to commit Mr Zuma to imprisonment, with the hope that doing so sends an unequivocal message… the rule of law and the administration of justice prevails.” The court also stated that Zuma lied, sought to mislead the public and tried to “destroy the rule of law”.
When Zuma refused to hand himself over to the police, last week; deadline of midnight on Wednesday, July 7, was imposed, after which he will be arrested. The judgement has been seen as setback for Jacob Zuma. No former South Africa’s president has been so jailed.
Zuma’s supporters protested the 15 months setence; while Zuma himself said “sending me to jail during the height of a pandemic”, at his age of 79, “is the same as sentencing me to death”. He has, repeatedly, also, said he is a victim of “political conspiracy”.
LIRANDZU THEMBA, police ministry spokesperson, confirmed, Wednesday night, that the police have taken Zuma into its custody, in compliance with Constitutional Court judgement. Jacob Zuma’s Foundation, also, released a statement, earlier, that he would be handing himself in to the police.
Zuma Foundation statement said: “Dear South Africans and the world. Please be advised that president Zuma has decided to comply with the incarceration order. He is on his way to hand himself into a correctional services facility in KZN,” and added that a further statement would follow later.