JOHANNESBURG – Police Minister Bheki Cele has written to the Constitutional Court, informing its judges that his officers will not arrest former President Jacob Zuma until all the convicted criminal’s legal applications are finalised.
Zuma defied the Constitutional Court’s order, which instructed him to hand himself over to the police by Sunday or face being arrested.
Last week, the Constitutional Court found that Zuma was in contempt of court for failing to appear before the state capture commission.
He became the first person in history to be sentences directly by the apex court, which handed down a 15 -month jail term.
In a legal letter written to the court, the lawyer representing Cele and National Police Commissioner Khehla Sihole states that “out of respect” for the upcoming legal action launched by Zuma, they’re now waiting for the court processes to unfold before they can effect the arrest warrant for the former president.
Cele and Sitole say the pending litigation has a direct impact on the action, which they should take, calling it a unique and legal matrix situation.
The court ordered both police heavyweights to take all reasonable steps that are necessary and permissible in law to ensure that Zuma is delivered to the correctional centre to start his 15-month jail sentence.
State attorney Johan Schalkwyk, on behalf of Cele and Sitole said there would be “chaos” at Nkandla if police travelled there to arrest Zuma now.
Speaking to Radio 702 on Tuesday morning, Schalkwyk said police couldn’t make the arrest now.
“He’s a man of influence and there’s a bit of tension and unrest playing currently out in Nkandla, so you can just think for yourself what chaos might erupt should the police go and arrest him.”
He also acknowledges that Zuma’s political power was being here.
“It appears that politicians are above the law and if he was an ordinary citizen, I can promise you, he would’ve been behind bars by now and conducted the litigation from his prison cell. But the reality of it is that these are not ordinary circumstances.”
However, Zuma launched an urgent application in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in which he seeks a stay of sentence pending the outcome of his rescission application to the apex court.
Cele and Sitole’s lawyer acknowledges that the litigation steps taken by Zuma cannot be seen as an appeal process, which in usual cases would have the effect of suspending the operation of a court order.