Mahikeng: Former president Jacob Zuma may be the first former president in South Africa to go to jail since democratic South Africa. He remains one of the most controversial presidents the country has ever had, his tenure is riddled with allegations of corruption. This is what led to the establisment of the Judge Raymond Zondo commission which was set to investigate state capture in his administration. It is because of the commission that he found himself at logger heads with the Constitutional court which has given him five days to hand himself in at the nearest police station. The court has given him 15 months in jail for violating the authority of the court and attacking the dignity of the judiciary.
Should JZ not follow the instruction of the court by Sunday, July 4th the minister of police Beki Cele and his national commissioner of police must within three days ensure that he is taken into custody to start his sentence.
The majority judgment delivered by acting Deputy Chief Justice Sisi Khampepe on Tuesday, June 29 confirmed that this was for Zuma’s defiance and attacks on the court. “It is disturbing that he who twice sought allegiance to the republic, its laws and its constitution has sought to ignore, undermine and in many ways destroy the rule of law altogether,” she said.
“In taking stock of the cumulative effect of these exceptional circumstances, the majority finds that it must grant an order that will vindicate the court’s order and protect and maintain public confidence in the legitimacy of the judiciary. Accordingly the only appropriate sanction is a direct, un-suspended order of imprisonment, because the alternative would be to effectively sentence the legitimacy of the judiciary to inevitable decay,” Khampepe said.
In their judgment they underpin the reasons for such a decision by the court. Khampepe said; “It defies logic to believe that a suspended sentence, which affords Mr Zuma one final opportunity to submit to the authority of the commission, would have any effect other than to prolong his defiance and to signal dangerously that impunity is to be enjoyed by those who defy court orders,”.
After defying the judgment in January 2021 the court again gave him a chance to present what sanctions should be taken against him. He again did not adhere, but rather used the opportunity to attack the court and portray himself as a victim.
“Instead of filing an affidavit as he was directed to do, Mr Zuma addressed a 21-page letter to the chief justice. Unfortunately, but not entirely unexpectedly, Mr Zuma once again squandered an opportunity to respect this country’s legal processes. He again aired his views through inflammatory statements intended to undermine the authority of the constitutional court and to portray himself as a victim. All of this besides being scandalous is totally irrelevant to the question. The sentence is related both to the seriousness of the default and the contumacy of the respondent and the order are influenced by the need to set an example and assert the authority of the court,” added the court.