Jacob Zuma has until Sunday to hand himself over for 15-month jail term

The Constitutional Court has found Zuma guilty of contempt for defying an order to appear before the state capture inquiry

Jacob Zuma sits in the dock after recess in his corruption trial in Pietermaritzburg, May 26 2021. File picture: PHIL MAGAKOE/POOL VIA REUTERS.
Jacob Zuma sits in the dock after recess in his corruption trial in Pietermaritzburg, May 26 2021. File picture: PHIL MAGAKOE/POOL VIA REUTERS.

Minutes after the apex court ordered former president Jacob Zuma go to jail for contempt, he was in urgent consultation with his lawyers. Zuma’s newly appointed spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi said: “It is shocking — President Zuma is now urgently consulting with his lawyers about the way forward.”

In the most extraordinary ruling by the Constitutional Court since its inception, the court ruled Zuma must serve 15 months in prison for defying its order that he obey summonses and testify at the state capture inquiry.

“It is declared that Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is guilty of the crime of contempt of court for failure to comply with the order made by this court,” said Justice Sisi Khampepe.

Khampepe authored the scathing majority judgment, confirmed by six of the country's top judges on the Constitutional Court bench. Justices Leona Theron and Chris Jafta held a minority view. Khampepe handed down the decision in an acting capacity as Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is on long leave.

“Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is sentenced to undergo 15 months of imprisonment,” said Khampepe. The country's court of last instance ordered Zuma to hand himself in at the police station in Nkandla or Johannesburg within five calendar days of the date of the order.

The court has told Zuma to report to the station commander or police officer in charge to be “immediately delivered to a correctional centre, to commence serving the sentence” of one year and three months.

The country’s superior court built a contingency into its order, which is triggered if Zuma fails to comply with the order to report to the police within five days to begin serving his jail term. If Zuma does not submit himself to the police by Sunday, Police minister Bheki Cele and police commissioner Khehla Sitole have three days to make that happen.

The Constitutional Court has compelled them — it uses the word “must” — to take “all steps that are necessary and permissible in law” to ensure Zuma is taken to jail to commence his sentence.

batese@businesslive.co.za

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