South African ex-president Jacob Zuma starts jail time | free press


The ex-president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, has been sinking into the maelstrom of corruption scandals for years. He likes to push the boundaries of the judiciary. Now he’s writing legal history – contrary to what he’d hoped.

Johannesburg (AP) – Despite days of protests from his supporters, former South African president Jacob Zuma has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for ignoring the judiciary. It is the first time ever that a former president of the country has been imprisoned.

The 79-year-old surrendered shortly before the midnight deadline and spent his first night on Thursday at EstCourt Prison in KwaZulu-Natal, a province on the country’s east coast.

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison by the Constitutional Court last week for ignoring a subpoena. During his tenure (2009-2018), Zuma will answer to a commission of inquiry into several corruption charges, but did not accept a subpoena. He had questioned the legality of the commission several times, insisting that he would go to jail rather than compete there.

The Zuma Foundation wrote that he decided to face the police. The politician thus escaped arrest by the police. Zuma’s daughter Dudu Zuma-Sambudla wrote on Twitter that her father was in a good mood and smiling on the way to jail.

Major police force Zuma to act

The 79-year-old tried for a long time to resist jail time – the veterans’ associations that support him also threatened to destabilize the country if arrested. Dozens of them were placed outside his estate, Nkandla, to guard.

The politician’s lawyers had made an urgent request that evening to postpone the start of the detention. The police advanced with numerous vehicles in front of Zuma’s Nkandla country residence in eastern South Africa. After several rounds of negotiations with his lawyers, a convoy of cars with Zuma eventually left the premises.

Next Monday, the Constitutional Court will consider Zuma’s request for annulment of the prison sentence – a procedure not actually regulated in a Supreme Court ruling.

Zuma had informed the court through his lawyers that, given his ill health, the verdict would put his life on the line. The news channel News24 quoted the lawyer’s letter stating that he had the right to have his case re-examined.

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