South Africa’s highest court found former President Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months in prison on Tuesday, a landmark move in the country’s long-running corruption saga.
The Constitutional Court of South Africa ordered that Zuma present himself at a police station in his home town of Nkandla or Johannesburg within five days.
In a scathing judgment, Justice Sisi Khampepe ruled: “There can be no doubt that Mr Zuma is in contempt of court.”
The order stems from Zuma’s refusal to appear at an anti-corruption commission to answer questions about his alleged involvement in corruption during his time as president. Zuma has repeatedly denied the allegations.
While the judgement has been welcomed by various politicians, law experts and ordinary citizens, it has been touted as “political targeting” by fervent supporters of Zuma. Additionally, there is also some skepticism as to whether Zuma will actually see the inside of a prison cell. This is after all, South Africa and stranger things have happened.
Judge Khampepe said that Zuma attempted to corrode the legitimacy of the Constitutional Court by conducting a “politically motivated smear campaign” against it, the commission and the judiciary.
“This is a historically significant moment,” said Karam Singh, head of legal and investigations at Corruption Watch, an anti-graft non-governmental organisation. “For the first time in South Africa, we are seeing a former head of state held directly accountable by way of a prison sentence.”Read some of their reactions on social media below:
Today is a day to celebrate. Our Court System is still independent and still works. Jacob Zuma has been found guilt… https://t.co/J9QLlgZ1jR
— Bronaldo Gouws 🇿🇦 (@Bronaldo Gouws 🇿🇦)1624955869.0
#JacobZuma People who think Jacob Zuma will be jailed haven’t learnt a thing about politicians and the justice syst… https://t.co/j7NEfZiVZC
— That🌞 Cool 🏅Guy (@That🌞 Cool 🏅Guy)1624956749.0
Jail or no jail we will never leave nor forsake Zuma. We are with you Nxamalala #JacobZuma
— Marxist (@Marxist)1624956326.0
I wish Zuma doesn’t present himself to the law enforcement within 5 days. I want to see something 🤣🤣🤣😂😂😂I want to s… https://t.co/sAmocphpr0
— The Lord Of Engineering (@The Lord Of Engineering)1624957948.0
Sad but proud moment for SA’s democracy: no-one should take pleasure in the sight of a former president going to ja… https://t.co/c4X6SvIfvf
— Richard Calland (@Richard Calland)1624956591.0