South Africa: deadline for ex-president Jacob Zuma to surrender to police

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Jacob Zuma, sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of justice, has until Sunday evening to surrender to the police. After a request for annulment from the former South African president, the Constitutional Court agreed to reconsider his conviction at a new hearing in July. A decision which does not suspend the judgment, Jacob Zuma must always be taken prisoner.

In South Africa, Sunday July 4 marks the deadline for Jacob Zuma to surrender to the authorities. The Constitutional Court, however, agreed to reconsider the sentence to 15 months in prison for contempt of justice of the former South African president, after a request for annulment, at a new hearing in July. A decision which does not suspend the judgment and, unless otherwise decided, Jacob Zuma must always be taken prisoner.

“The hearing has been set for July 12,” said the country’s highest court which on Tuesday June 29 sentenced the former leader, 79, for having repeatedly refused to testify in investigations for state corruption. This decision, described as “historic”, cannot normally be appealed.

Jacob Zuma, who apparently has no intention of making it easy for the authorities, filed an appeal on Friday asking the Constitutional Court to overturn its decision altogether.

Believing that the judges have exceeded their rights and invoking “his unstable health”, he questions a “cruel and degrading” sentence, which he considers inappropriate for acts of contempt of justice.

According to constitutional law expert Lawson Naidoo, this new hearing “does not automatically suspend the judgment” and, unless otherwise decided, Jacob Zuma must still be taken prisoner by Sunday.

The Court has provided that if the former president does not surrender himself to the authorities, the police will come to arrest him and take him to jail where he will serve his sentence.

Gathering of its supporters

After his conviction, hundreds of the charismatic leader’s followers gradually flocked to the outskirts of his vast estate in Nkandla, in the Zulu countryside.

This house is known to have been renovated at taxpayer expense for 20 million euros during his presidency (2009-2018). The main building, with a thatched roof and surrounded by several outbuildings, dominates the valley of this rural corner in the east of the country.

Dressed in the traditional leopard skin and armed with spears, Zulu warriors came on Saturday to show their support. “I’m here because I love Zuma,” a supporter told AFP. “When he was the head of the country, there was no problem with electricity, there was no containment, nor Covid.”

Several members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) entered and left the residence on Saturday.

“President Zuma is in a good mood, he has the morale, like us,” said after a visit one of his relatives, the former secretary general of the ANC, Ace Magashule.

Fearing tensions, the ANC sent a delegation to the province to call for calm and the police presence was reinforced.

With AFP

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