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Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Raymond Zondo got a buy in from the Constitutional Court after bringing forward charges against former President Jacob Zuma for failing to present himself at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
Former President Zuma failed to appear at the Commission on several occasions after only making one appearance to give his testimony where he dropped bombshells about corruption that had allegedly been going in the government prior to his term and also during his term.
Having only made one appearance, the President’s legal team and the Commission’s legal team agreed that a date would be made available where former President Zuma would appear again.
To which former President later on called for Commission’s Chairperson DCJ Zondo’s recusal citing conflict of interest saying that the two are somehow related and also accused the DCJ of joining a team of detractors who have launched a witch hunt against him.
DCJ argued that although he once had a relationship with the former President’s sister in-law, this has nothing to do with their personal lives and the relationship happened years before Mr Zuma was elected as the President in the 90s. He dismissed the application by Mr Zuma’s team to have him recused and ordered that he continues with his testimony to give his evidence.
Mr Zuma then left the Commission’s chambers without knowledge and consent of the Commission even after being summoned to make himself available.
As a result, criminal charges against the former President were initiated and taken to the Constitutional Court to have Mr Zuma charged and be imprisoned for defying the Commission’s summons.
Handing down the judge against former President Zuma, Justice Sisi Khampepe sitting in the Constitutional Court sentenced Mr Zuma to 15 months in jail.
The Constitutional Court said he was in contempt of court when he failed to appear and participate at the Commission.
“The Constitutional Court holds that there can be no doubt that Mr Zuma is in contempt of court. A judgment order was handed down in favour of the applicant [the Zondo commission]. Mr Zuma was served with the order, and it is impossible to conclude anything other than that he was unequivocally aware of what it exactly required of him. Never before has the authority of the Constitutional Court been threatened, never before has the judiciary been threatened” said Justice Khampepe.
The majority judgment ordered an unsuspended sentence of imprisonment for a period of 15 months for Mr Zuma.
He was also ordered to hand himself over to the South African Police Services (SAPS).
Failure to do so, the minister of police and national commissioner of SAPS must within three calendar days of the expiry of the first five days take the necessary legal steps to ensure Mr Zuma is handed over to a correctional facility.