Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. He can be reached on [email protected]
South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma was on Tuesday sentenced to 15 months in jail by the country’s highest court with a judge saying that doing so “sends an unequivocal message – the rule of law and the administration of justice prevails.”
The court gave him five days to hand himself to the police or the police minister must order his arrest.
The sentence followed a ruling by the Constitutional Court that found him guilty of contempt after he failed to appear at an inquiry into corruption while in office.
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Mr. Zuma, who left office in 2018 made one appearance at the inquiry now known as “state capture” but refused to make further appearances at the inquiry headed by Justice Raymond Zongo.
The inquiry urged the Constitutional Court to intervene and he was sentenced on Tuesday.
Acting Chief Justice Sisi Khampepe said Zuma refused to come to the court to explain his action and he “elected instead to make provocative, unmeritorious and vituperative statements that constituted a calculated effort to impugn the integrity of the judiciary.”
“I am left with no option but to commit Mr. Zuma to imprisonment, with the hope that doing so sends an unequivocal message – the rule of law and the administration of justice prevails.”
Zuma, who was not in court has claimed the inquiry was politically motivated.
Last month, Mr. Zuma pleaded not guilty in his corruption trial involving a $5 billion arms deal from the 1990s.
To his supporters, Zuma remains a former anti-apartheid hero who spent a decade on Robben Island and say he’s the victim of a political conspiracy. They also say the white racists who imprisoned him and brutalized South Africans remain free.