Following his refusal to testify before graft investigators, South Africa’s top court sentenced former President Jacob Zuma to 15 months in prison for contempt of court on Tuesday.
Judge Sisi Khampepe stated, “The Constitutional Court can do nothing but infer that Mr Zuma is guilty of contempt of court.”
Zuma, 79, is accused of facilitating the looting of state funds during his nearly nine-year tenure as president.
“This type of resistance and recalcitrance is illegal, and it will be punished,” Khampepe warned.
“I have no choice but to commit Mr Zuma to prison in the hopes of sending a clear message… that the rule of law and the administration of justice prevail.”
She ruled, “The majority judgment orders an unsuspended sentence of jail for a period (of 15 months),” and Zuma was given five days to surrender.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is the chairman of the committee of inquiry.
The panel was set up by Zuma himself, under pressure from the ruling African National Congress, shortly before he was deposed in 2018. (ANC).
However, he only testified once, in July 2019, before staging a walkout and accused the commission’s Zondo of bias a few days later.
He then declined multiple invitations to appear, citing medical reasons and preparations for a new corruption trial as justifications.
In November, he reappeared briefly but fled before being questioned, prompting Zondo to seek intervention from the Constitutional Court.
The majority of the wrongdoing investigated by the panel involves three brothers from a rich Indian business family, the Guptas, who reportedly were able to appoint cabinet ministers and received lucrative government contracts.
Zuma faces 16 allegations of fraud, bribery, and racketeering in connection with a 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats, and military equipment from five European arms corporations for 30 billion rand, or over $5 billion at the time.
Zuma was President Thabo Mbeki’s deputy at the time of the purchase.
He is suspected of collecting bribes of R4 million from one of the companies, Thales, a French defense conglomerate.
by olusanya olutayo