Former president Jacob Zuma, through his foundation, has lambasted the judgment handed down by Acting Chief Justice Sisi Khampepe, sentencing the former freedom fighter to 15 months’ imprisonment for contempt.
“Our patron [Zuma] has never believed that he is above the law or the Constitution, the supreme law of the land. On the contrary, he has always insisted that he must be treated like every other citizen, and his rights to equal protection of the laws must be respected and protected,” the Jacob Zuma Foundation Spokesperson, Jimmy Manyi said in a statement issued recently.
“Indeed, our patron has expressed his doubts about the lawfulness of the Zondo Commission, the biased manner in which it is being conducted, and the fact that it has been transformed into a “slaughterhouse” and a forum in which all kinds of unsubstantiated and defamatory allegations have been made against him. He sought the recusal of DCJ Zondo on the basis of bias, followed appropriate legal channels, and lodged a judicial review application in the high court,” he added.
Manyi lamented that “instead of allowing a lawful judicial review process to unfold in the high Court, DCJ Zondo ignored that review court process and lodged an urgent application in the Constitutional Court” seeking to hold the former president in contempt. The Jacob Zuma Foundation also insisted that it is not a criminal offence “to have a dispute with an administrative agency such as the Zondo Commission”.
“The principle of equality before the law was clearly violated, and the Zondo Commission was given an advantage in a case that was adjudicated by DCJ Zondo’s colleagues, whom he supervises,” Manyi said.
In conclusion, the Jacob Zuma Foundation said it “denounces Judge Khampepe’s judgment as judicially emotional and angry, and not consistent with our Constitution”. The Constitutional Court found Zuma guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months’ imprisonment.
Khampepe read out the judgment, which found that Zuma was fully aware of the consequences of his actions and wilfully defied the court’s order to appear before the Zondo Commission.
“The majority [of the bench] holds that a coercive order, which uses the threat of imprisonment to ensure compliance will be both futile and inappropriate,” Khampepe said.
She said there was “no sound basis” for Zuma to claim that he was being unfairly treated.
“The majority finds itself with no choice but to find that this kind of incalcitrance cannot be tolerated,” Khampepe read.
She pointed out that Zuma’s case was exceptional because of his position as a former president. as well as his criticism of the judiciary. The ConCourt justices strongly condemned Zuma’s “outlandish statements” and found that the only reasonable sentence was an unsuspended sentence of 15 months’ imprisonment.
The apex court ruled that Zuma must hand himself over to police at either Nkandla police station or Johannesburg Central within 5 calendar days to commence serving his sentence.