Jacob Zuma Sentenced To 15 Months In Jail For Contempt Of Court By Constitutional Court
Former South Africa President Jacob Zuma has been sentenced to 15 months in prison by the Constitutional Court of South Africa. This comes after Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court when he defied a court order issued by the Constitutional Court for him to appear before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
The 15-month sentence for the former president was announced by Acting Chief Justice Sisi Khampepe who wrote the majority judgment. Justice Kampepe said that Zuma was fully aware of the consequences of his actions and willfully defied the court’s order to appear before the Zondo Commission. She added that the ConCourt has no choice but to send an unequivocal message that the rule of law prevails following Zuma’s scandalous disrespect for the apex court.
“The majority holds that a coercive order which uses the threat of imprisonment to ensure compliance will be both futile and inappropriate.
“The majority finds itself with no choice but to find that this kind of recalcitrance cannot be tolerated.”
In handing the unsuspended sentence of 15 months in jail, Justice Khampepe noted that Zuma is not an ordinary litigant. She said that his moral blameworthiness is higher as he is the former president who wields a lot of political power. She further noted that Zuma can influence others to disregard court orders. Justice Kamphepe added that if Zuma’s conduct is met with impunity, he will do significant damage to the rule of law in South Africa.
The ConCourt justices strongly condemned Zuma’s “outlandish statements” and found that the only reasonable sentence was an unsuspended sentence of 15 months imprisonment.
Zuma was ordered to hand himself to the authorities within 5 days. If he does not hand himself over, Minister of Police Bheki Cele and national police commissioner Khehla John Sithole have three days to take “all steps necessary” to ensure Zuma is in jail according to the ConCourt judgement.
“…Zuma to submit himself at Nkandla or Johannesburg Central within 5 calendar days for the station commander to ensure that he is immediately committed to a correctional facility…If he does not, as required, the minister of police and the national commissioner of police must within three days take all steps necessary and permissible in law to ensure that JG Zuma is committed to a correctional centre”
The Constitutional Court judges also slapped the former President with the legal costs.
Justices Theron and Jaftha dissented with the other judges. In the minority judgement, they note that while they agree that Jacob Zuma is in contempt of court, they do not believe that he should summarily be sent to prison.
However, Justice Khampepe said that the majority judgment is unappealable. This means that former President Jacob Zuma has to go to jail for 15 months.
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