South Africa’s former President, Jacob Zuma has on Tuesday, June 29 been sentenced to 15 months by the country’s Constitutional Court for contempt of court.
Zuma was found guilty by the country’s highest court after he defied its order to appear at a corruption inquiry centered on his time in power between 2009 and 2018.
Announcing the ruling, judge Sisi Khampepe stated;
The majority judgement orders an unsuspended sentence of imprisonment for a period (of 15 months). The Constitutional Court can do nothing but conclude that Mr. Zuma is guilty of the crime of contempt of court.
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.
The judge ordered the former South African president to hand himself over within five days.
Zuma, 79, stands accused of enabling the looting of state coffers during his nearly nine-year stay in office.
The inquiry, led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, is examining high-level corruption during Zuma’s time in office.
In 2018, Zuma was forced to step down after being forced out by his own party, the ruling African National Congress (ANC), following a series of corruption scandals.
Under immense pressure, Zuma set up the inquiry shortly before he was ousted. In July 2019, he testified only once before walking out of court and accusing Zondo of being biased against him.
Zuma refused to participate in contempt of court hearings, addressing an angry letter to Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng that described an “atmosphere of judicial hostility” and “humiliation“.
Since then, Zuma has repeatedly ignored requests to appear in court, citing medical issues and time needed to prepare for a different corruption trial.
This promoted Zondo to report the case to Constitutional Court, calling for their intervention.