The Constitutional Court has found former president Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court for failure to comply with an order of the Constitutional Court to honour summons. He has subsequently been sentenced to 15 months imprisonment.
Handing down the court’s decision on behalf of the majority, Justice Sisi Khampepe said on Tuesday, that it is the lofty task of the judiciary to uphold, protect and apply the rule of law at all cost.
The court ordered Zuma sentenced to a 15-month jail term for fully being aware of the consequences of his actions and willfully defying the court’s order to appear before the Zondo Commission.
Khampepe said, “…the majority holds that a coercive order which uses the threat of imprisonment to ensure compliance will be both futile and inappropriate”
She said there was “no sound basis” for Zuma to claim that he was being unfairly targeted.
She pointed out that Zuma’s case was exceptional because of his position as a former president as well as his criticism of the judiciary.
The ConCourt justices strongly condemned Zuma’s “outlandish statements” and found that “the only appropriate sanction is a direct unsuspended order of imprisonment,” Khampepe said.
It further instructed Zuma to hand himself over to police at either Nkandla police station or Johannesburg Central within 5 calendar days to commence serving his sentence.
Meanwhile, Zuma’s private army made of the MKMVA (Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association) battalion kept sentry at his Nkandla home ahead of Tuesday’s judgment.
They have been stationed outside his rural home since late March. They were heard singing Struggle songs from their tents while others strutted around.
Zuma’s disagreement with the court started in December last year when the Zondo Commission, which is probing allegations of corruption during his nine-year tenure, approached the court to ask it to compel him to appear and respond to all questions directed at to him.
On March 25 this year, advocate Tembeka Ngcukayitobi, acting on behalf of the commission, asked the court to hand down a two-year sentence, holding that Zuma had made grave accusations against the judiciary without any evidence to back them up.
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