Former South African President Jacob Zuma asked, Friday, July 2, the Constitutional Court, which sentenced him on Tuesday to prison for contempt, to reverse its decision.
The 79-year-old former head of state was sentenced to fifteen months in prison by the country’s highest court, for having repeatedly refused to testify in investigations for state corruption. . This historic decision cannot be appealed. In a document addressed to the Court, Jacob Zuma therefore requests that the decision be “Reconsidered and canceled”.
The judgment provides that if Mr. Zuma does not go to a police station himself by Sunday, the police can come and arrest him and take him to prison, where he will serve his sentence. The former head of state also asked a court in KwaZulu-Natal, where he lives, a suspension of this period.
A “cruel and degrading punishment” according to Jacob Zuma
On Friday, a hundred people gathered in front of his residence. “We will not allow President Zuma to go to jail”, hammered Carl Niehaus, a close and former spokesperson for the historic party in power, the African National Congress (ANC). Veterans of the ANC armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe, loyal supporters of Zuma, were also stationed in tents around his home.
Invoking her “Unstable state of health” and “A decision to imprison him which threatens his physical life”, Mr. Zuma questions, in his appeal, the “Cruel and degrading punishment” judgment as being inappropriate for contempt of justice. The former head of state “Invites the Court to review its decision and simply reassess whether it acted within the framework of the Constitution or whether it exceeded the powers conferred on it”.
Jacob Zuma is accused of plundering public money during his nine years in power. Stuck in scandals, he had been forced to resign. Since the creation in 2018 of a commission of inquiry into state corruption, the former president, already implicated by some forty testimonies, has been stepping up the maneuvers to avoid having to explain himself.
Cyril Ramaphosa against corruption
Some also fear that the condemnation of the former president could lead to a serious political crisis within the ANC, already plagued by a factional war. The former head of state still has loyal supporters there opposed to the current president. Successor of Mr. Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa has made the fight against corruption a battle horse, but he himself was called to testify before the commission.
Jacob Zuma is also on trial over a 20-year-old bribe case. He is accused of having pocketed more than 4 million rand (or 235,000 euros) from the French Thales, which was one of the companies awarded a juicy arms contract with a total value of around 2.8 Billions of Euro’s.