THE constitutional court of South Africa has sentenced Jacob Zuma to 15 months in jail for failing to appear at an inquiry into the corruption cases linked to his time as president.
Zuma has been asked by the court to hand himself over to the police in South Africa’s capital Johannesburg or Nkandla, his hometown, within five days or be arrested.
The judgment was delivered by Acting Chief Justice Sisi Khampepe, who ruled that Zuma’s refusal to honour the summons was in contempt of court and “nobody is above the law, regardless of rank or condition.”
The judge noted that “an act of defiance in respect of a direct judicial order has the potential to precipitate a constitutional crisis.”
She also said that Zuma, instead of showing up, had resorted to actions and remarks that “constituted a calculated effort to impugn the integrity of the judiciary.”
The allegations of corruption against Zuma had been met with refutations. The former president had reportedly denied any wrongdoing and called out the judiciary as being biased against him.
Zuma made an initial appearance in 2019, after which he repeatedly refused to return and testify at South Africa’s Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, also known as the Zondo Commission.
Following Zuma’s refusal to provide evidence at the Zondo Commission, a “Contempt of Court” charge was filed against him.
Zuma had risen to become the fourth democratically elected president of South Africa in 2009. After spending nearly a decade in office, he stepped down in 2018.
During his presidency, which has been described as “plagued with corruption”, Zuma survived a series of no-confidence votes. In February 2018, he faced a recall by his party, the African National Congress (ANC).