JOHANNESBURG – The Constitutional Court has sentenced former President Jacob Zuma to 15 months in jail. It said he was in contempt of court when he failed to appear and participate at the state capture inquiry. Justice Sisi Khampepe handed the down the judgment on Tuesday morning, saying court considered an unsuspended jail team of two years but that this matter was extraordinary.

“The Constitutional Court holds that there can be no doubt that Mr Zuma is in contempt of court. A judgment order was handed down in favour of the applicant [the Zondo commission]. Mr Zuma was served with the order, and it is impossible to conclude anything other than that he was unequivocally aware of what it exactly required of him. Never before has the authority of the Constitutional Court been threatened, never before has the judiciary been threatened.”

The Constitutional Court is the highest court in South Africa, which means Zuma cannot appeal this ruling through the national judicial system. Zuma has been ordered to submit himself to Nkandla Police Station or the Johannesburg Central Police Station in five days.


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Justice Khampepe said: “Not only has Mr Zuma failed to dispute the contempt of court, he has also failed to contest the decree of the contempt. Instead, he has aggravated it, the majority judgment orders an unsuspended sentence of imprisonment for a period of 15 months.”

In the event Zuma does not submit himself to the South African Police Service (SAPS) as required, the minister of police and national commissioner of SAPS must within three calendar days of the expiry of the first five days to take the necessary legal steps to ensure he is submitted to a correctional facility.

It said by failing to appear before the state capture commission as ordered by the court and making disparaging and scandalous statements about the court to impugn its integrity, Zuma had grossly violated the rule of law.

“Although Mr Zuma is no longer president, his conduct flies in the face of the obligation he bore as president, and it is also not insignificant that Mr Zuma’s contemptuous conducts relate to his duty to account for the time that he was in office. It’s inextricably linked to his constitutional as an office bearer.”

It said if the court didn’t send a strong message, he could influence others to do the same in defiance of the Constitution and the rule of law. The court said as a former president, he had a heightened obligation to uphold the law. He has also been ordered to pay the legal costs of the case.

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