Ex South African President Jacob Zuma sentenced 15 months in jail

FILE - In this file photo dated Tuesday July 16, 2019, former South African president Jacob Zuma looks on at the state commission probing allegations of corruption in government, in Johannesburg. South African media say the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday Nov. 29, 2019, has dismissed Zuma’s attempt to appeal a ruling that cleared the way for him to be prosecuted for corruption.(AP Photo/FILE)

Durban – Former president Jacob Zuma has been given five days to present himself at the Nkandla or Central Joburg police stations to start serving his one year and three months prison sentence for contempt of court.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday jailed the former president for 15 months for failing to comply with its order forcing him to appear before the commission of inquiry into state capture earlier this year.

In the scathing majority judgment written by acting deputy chief Justice Sisi Khampepe, the apex court ordered to submit himself to the Nkandla or Joburg Central police station within five calendar days.

Should Zuma fail to meet the five-day deadline, Justice Khampepe also ordered Police Minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole to within three calendar days, take all steps to ensure that the former ANC leader is committed to a correctional centre.

Zuma must also pay the costs of the commission’s urgent application on a punitive scale.

Justice Khampepe described the commission’s case against Zuma as exceptional and important to ensuring that public confidence in the judiciary is maintained.

She said the majority judgment would send a resounding message that the kind of defiance and recalcitrance displayed by Zuma will not be tolerated.

According to Justice Khampepe, Zuma’s particular contempt had unique and scandalous features as he is no ordinary litigant but a former president who continues to wield political influence.

Zuma’s contempt, Justice Khampepe continued, had the potential to do significant damage to the rule of law.

She said the matter tested the strength of the judiciary and that the direct attacks by Zuma were meant to erode its legitimacy.

The judgment would also send an unequivocal message that Zuma’s conduct set a bad example to the public, according to Justice Khampepe.

Justice Leonie Theron penned the dissenting judgment, with Justice Chris Jafta concurring.

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