In a last-minute bid to stop himself from going to prison, former president Jacob G. Zuma is said to have made an urgent application seeking to rescind the ruling that sought to incarcerate him. The former president was on Tuesday ruled to be in contempt by a Constitutional Court majority ruling that was delivered by the then acting Chief Justice, Justice Sisi Mphepe. She sentenced Zuma to 15 months in prison and said that he had 5 days to present himself to the police, either in Johannesburg or Nkandla, where he would start serving this term.
It emerged on Friday that Zuma’s legal team, which is led by Advocate Dali Mpofu SC, would be making the appeal against the ruling. In addition, the legal team said that they would be appealing to stay the implementation of the order for his arrest as well as his being locked. It emerged that the Constitutional Court had confirmed that the former president would serve his one and a quarter year sentence at the Westville Correctional Centre in KwaZulu-Natal and that on the last day of June, the acting Chief Justice had signed Zuma’s warrant of committal. The committal comes in the wake of Zuma having walked out of the State Capture Commission which is chaired by Deputy and now acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who the former president has accused of conflict of interest and asked to recuse himself from the commission. The conflict of interest stems from the friendship between the two men which, however, did not become an issue when Zuma appointed Zondo to chair the commission when he was still the president.
On the other hand, tensions are rising in Nkandla as the deadline that has been set by the Constitutional Court of Sunday fast approaches. The highest court in the land had issued the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, and the Police Commissioner, Khehla Sitole, to effect the arrest and ensure that Zuma goes to serve his sentence. A lot of the Zuma supporters have made their presence felt in the former president’s home areas and have vowed to form a human shield to protect him from being arrested. Chief among these supporters and purported protectors are the Umkhonto WeSizwe Military Veterans and none other than the former Zuma friend, Carl Niehaus, who made the pronouncement about forming the human shield.
The tension is so strong in the area that the leadership of the ANC, whose leadership had planned to meet for three days over the weekend, had cancelled the said meeting and would be travelling to the area to catch any fallout from the clash of the supporters with the police.