The secretary of the State Capture Commission, Professor Itumeleng Mosala, has lashed out at the former president, Jacob Zuma, who has launched an appeal against the 15-month jail term that was handed down to him last week by the Constitutional Court for contempt of court. Mosala accused the former president of what he called a “continuation of his pattern of abuse of court processes.”
On Tuesday last week, the Constitutional Court sentenced Zuma to 15 months in prison after he refused to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, which is chaired by the Deputy Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo, despite being ordered to do so by the apex court. Zuma was meant to give testimony against his alleged role in state capture to the commission. However, before he could finish testifying, he asked Zondo to recuse himself from the inquiry, claiming that he was biased and that there was a conflict of interest emanating from the fact that they had a personal relationship. When Zondo refused to recuse himself in November last year, Zuma walked out and refused to participate in the inquiry anymore. Zondo then looked to the highest court in the land, which capitulated by instructing the former head of state to attend the commission. However, Nxamalala defied the ConCourt order, resulting in last week’s ruling, which gave him five days in which to hand himself over to the police either in Nkandla or Johannesburg.
In his turn, Zuma then made an appeal to the court to stay its sentence and the court responded that it would be hearing the case in a week. Zuma then made an urgent application to the High Court in Pietermaritzburg for it to set aside the warrant of his arrest. In his argument, Zuma said the warrant should be stayed since the ConCourt had agreed to hear his case. In response to this, the State Capture Commission’s Prof Mosala said that while the High Court could stay or vary its own decisions and orders, it had no jurisdiction or power to amend a higher court’s decision. “In the context of this case, the Constitutional Court must be left to assert its authority and deal with the applicant’s persistent attempts to undermine that court and the judicial system as a whole,” said Mosala. He added that the application by Zuma should be seen as exactly what it is: an attempt by the applicant to avoid the inevitable, that is, serving his sentence.