Former South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday asked a regional court to suspend the Constitutional Court’s ruling in an attempt to avoid a 15-year sentence for contempt of South African justice.
Zuma’s lawyers urged the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, capital of the coastal KwaZulu-Natal province, to prevent the execution of the ruling by the Constitutional Court, South Africa’s highest judicial body, which sentenced Jacob Zuma last week to 15 months in prison for contempt of court by repeatedly refusing to comply with a summons requiring him to testify in corruption investigations.
According to the ruling, the former South African head of state was to turn himself in to the police within five days.
Zuma was found guilty of failing to obey a court order to appear before the commission investigating allegations of grand corruption in the South African state during his presidential term from 2009 to 2018.
The former South African head of state has repeatedly expressed his unwillingness to appear before the commission, which has so far heard evidence directly implicating him in wrongdoing during his rule.
Zuma has requested a stay of his 15-month prison sentence until the Constitutional Court rules next Monday, July 12, on his request to overturn the sentence.
Zuma’s lawyer, Dali Mpofu, argued before the regional court today that Police Minister Bheki Cele did not object to Zuma’s request and that the former South African president was not considered to be at risk of flight.
However, lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who represents the commission of inquiry into state capture by grand corruption in the case involving former President Jacob Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, said Zuma’s lawyer, Dali Mpofu, has not demonstrated the jurisdiction of this court to hear the case.
Ngcukaitobi further noted that Zuma had until Sunday to report to the police to begin his prison term and that the former president is currently flouting the law.
“Since Sunday, Mr. Zuma has been continuously violating the current order, let alone the order for which he has already been convicted,” he said.
“There is no need for clarity from the Constitutional Court. The order is manifest, all that needs to be done is for the order to be executed, unless the police themselves get an order preventing them from executing it,” Ngcukaitobi pointed out.
Since the weekend, hundreds of Zuma supporters have congregated near Zuma’s official residence in rural Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, to prevent any attempt by police to arrest the former South African head of state.
The African National Congress (ANC), Nelson Mandela’s ruling party which Zuma led from 2007 to 2017, today condemned the actions of Zuma’s supporters, urging respect for the rule of law.
The ANC leadership said it deplored the “calls for violence and civil war, the parade of armed groups and the blatant display of weapons” near Zuma’s residence.
South African police deployed several armed means and personnel to the rural area of Nkandla around former President Zuma’s home.