South Africa’s highest court agrees to hear former President Jacob Zuma’s challenge to his 15-month sentence on charges of contempt.
South Africa’s constitutional court has agreed to hear former President Jacob Zuma’s challenge to rescind an order that sentenced him to 15 months in prison on charges of contempt.
The constitutional court convicted Zuma a 15 months in prison on Tuesday for not appearing in the corruption investigation led by Deputy Raymond Zondo in February.
The former president was given until the end of Sunday to surrender, after which police would be forced to arrest him. But the court agreed on Saturday to hear his request on July 12.
Al Jazeera correspondent Fahmida Miller, a reporter from Nkandla in South Africa, said that instead of “surrendering for tomorrow or being arrested in the next few days … Jacob Zuma will return or at least appear for first time in the Constitutional Court to defend himself. “
Miller said prior to the sentencing the leader had different opportunities to express his concerns.
“It simply came to our notice then [the opportunities]Miller said. “And now it looks like just a day before he’s supposed to be handed over, he’s willing to talk to the Constitutional Court,” he added.
Zuma described the sentence as an “exemplary political declaration of punishment.” He has claimed that he is the victim of a political witch hunt and that Zondo is leaning against him.
In his application to overturn the decision filed Friday, Zuma said going to jail “would put him at the highest risk of death” from the pandemic because he is about 80 years old and has an illness.
Thousands of his supporters, mostly members of the Umkhonto Wesizwe military wing of the African National Congress, have been encamped outside his home in Kwa-Zulu Natal province for weeks.
On Saturday, hundreds of them marched alongside Zuma in his hometown, Nkandla.
“They can give Zuma 15 months … or 100 months. It won’t take a day or a minute, “his son Edward Zuma told Reuters news agency at the rally.” They should have killed me before they got their hands on him. “
Zuma, who did not speak to his fans but is expected to address him on Sunday, wore a black and gold tropical shirt as he walked through the crowd, but without a mask. He was guarded by men dressed as traditional warriors from his Zulu nation, who wore leopard skins and had spears with oval ox-skin shields.
Tension has risen this week as members of the Umkhonto Wesizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) threatened to destabilize the country if the former leader was arrested, promising to form a human shield around Zuma.
Fearing a confrontation, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said it had postponed the scheduled meeting of its top National Executive Committee this weekend.
Numerous convoys of local provincial leaders, including ANC secretary in KwaZulu Natal Mdumiseni Ntuli and provincial prime minister Sihle Zikalala were seen at the property.
Zuma’s ally Carl Niehaus told AFP that the former president was on his estate on Saturday meeting with spiritual leaders.