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Jacob Zuma files urgent application begging Concourt to rescind jail term

Three days before Jacob Zuma was to hand himself over to authorities to start serving his 15 month jail sentence, his supporters cordoned off his Nkandla home and threatened war if force was used to effect the arrest. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News

Three days before Jacob Zuma was to hand himself over to authorities to start serving his 15 month jail sentence, his supporters cordoned off his Nkandla home and threatened war if force was used to effect the arrest. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News

Published Jul 2, 2021

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Johannesburg - In a last ditch effort to stay out of jail, former president Jacob Zuma has made an urgent application to the Constitutional Court to rescind and reconsider its decision to send him to prison for 15 months.

In an affidavit filed to the Concourt on Friday afternoon, Zuma said his ill-health and the fact that he was 79 years old should be taken into consideration, especially as he was considered high-risk during this Covid-19 pandemic.

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In his founding affidavit, Zuma said his imprisonment would not serve constitutional value but may be a political statement.

Earlier, the ANC said it had postponed its NEC meeting scheduled for the weekend and had deployed a delegation of NEC members, including Jeff Radebe, Fikile Mbalula, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Thabang Makwetla, Tony Yengeni, Lindiwe Sisulu, Zweli Mkhize, Thoko Didiza, Bheki Cele and Ayanda Dlodlo, among others, to work with the ANC KZN PEC to quell tensions in Nkandla.

This comes after some supporters of the former president have been descending to Nkandla in a show of support for the former president. Some have fired gunshots as part of their demonstrations, vowing that Zuma would not be arrested under their watch.

In his affidavit, given his impending incarceration, Zuma said he did not have sufficient time to put together his application, but he is approaching the court “fully cognisant of the passionate, charged and strong expression of judicial disdain” for his apparent defiance of its orders.

“I am advised that before I walk through the prison doors to serve my sentence as the first direct prisoner of the Constitutional Court under our constitutional democracy, it will not be futile to make one last attempt to invite the Constitutional Court to relook its decision and to merely reassess whether it has acted within the Constitution or, erroneously, beyond the powers vested in the court by the Constitution,” his plea read.

In his founding affidavit, Zuma said the incarceration order threatens his life given his own unstable state of health.

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“In the present circumstances, it is the right to life itself which may be at stake. It is, therefore, no exaggeration to label mine as cruel and degrading punishment,” he said.

He called on the court to examine its direct imprisonment order.

Zuma said he wanted to be “upfront” with the court, adding that he did not seek sympathy but “its sense of fairness and impartiality”.

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“I am a 79-year-old man who suffers from a medical condition that requires constant and intense therapy and attention,” he said.

He said he did not disclose his ill health to avoid imprisonment, which he “gladly” faced before.

He said his ill health should form part of the many other reasons why he should not be imprisoned, more particularly in the current context of a deadly pandemic.

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Meanwhile, the former president also offered an explanation to the Concourt about why he had left the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on the day which instituted the proceedings, which have ultimately led to him facing jail term.

He told the Concourt that he had to take his medication and that he was under the impression that he could leave the premises of the commission and had tasked his legal team with communicating to Zondo, that he had left.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday sentenced Zuma to 15 months for failing to comply with its order forcing him to appear before the commission of inquiry into state capture earlier this year.

Zuma has until Sunday to hand himself in at the Nkandla or Central Joburg police stations to start serving his prison sentence.

If he does not, the Concourt said the Police Minister Bheki Cele had three days to effect his arrest.

Additional reporting Sihle Mlambo

Political Bureau and IOL

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