Jacob Zuma Foundation responds to ConCourt sentencing former president to jail
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Johannesburg - It still remains to be seen if former president Jacob Zuma will abide with a Constitutional Court ruling and hand himself over to the police in four days time, but late on Wednesday night, his foundation fired back at acting deputy chief justice Sisi Khampepe, describing her judgment as “judicially emotional and angry and not consistent” with the Constitution.
Khampepe’s judgment, which was supported by six other justices of the Concourt, sentenced the former president to 15 months imprisonment for contempt of court after he defied a January Concourt order which directed him to appear before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, give evidence and declared that he does not have a right to remain silent.
The commission approached the court in a bid to force the former president to testify before the commission as a witness.
Zuma defied the order and the commission approached the Concourt on an urgent basis in March, seeking a two-year jail sentence.
Late on Wednesday night, just before midnight, the Jacob Zuma Foundation released a lengthy statement defending their patron, Zuma.
In their statement, the foundation said they were still studying the judgment and did not pronounce on whether the former president would hand himself over to the police in Nkandla or Johannesburg as the Concourt had directed him to do so.
The foundation also said they believed that the judgment against Zuma was unfair and unconstitutional, and accused the Concourt of breaching the constitution and their oath of office.
“Suffice to say that the same Constitution that obliges our patron to obey the supreme law of the land like every other citizen also affords him the same protections that it affords every other citizen.
“Secondly, our patron 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,” said the foundation.
Khampepe’s judgment had been scathing on Zuma, saying he had failed to uphold the constitution, which he swore to do twice, when he was elected president.
Said Khampepe: “Quantifying Mr Zuma’s egregious conduct is an impossible task. So, I am compelled to ask the question: what will it take for the punishment imposed on Mr Zuma to vindicate this court’s authority and the rule of law?
“In other words, the focus must be on what kind of sentence will demonstrate that orders made by a court must be obeyed and, to Mr Zuma, that his contempt and contumacy is rebukeable in the strongest sense.
“With this in mind then, I order an unsuspended sentence of imprisonment of 15 months. I do so in the knowledge that this cannot properly capture the damage that Mr Zuma has done to the dignity and integrity of the judicial system of a democratic and constitutional nation.
“He owes this sentence in respect of violating not only this court, nor even just the sanctity of the judiciary, but to the nation he once promised to lead and to the Constitution he once vowed to uphold”.
Meanwhile, the foundation said the commission was bias and described it as a slaughter house, which, they said, had become like a “forum in which all kinds of unsubstantiated and defamatory allegations have been made against him (Zuma)”.
“Finally, 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 Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo's colleagues, whom he supervises.
“In addition, the majority judgment makes a spurious claim that our patron ‘attacked’ the Constitutional Court, which is utterly false.
“If true, it is unconstitutional and a serious conflict for the same ‘vilified’ panel of judges, which is supposedly embroiled in a running, bitter controversy with the alleged contemnor to preside as judges in their own case. No one so cruelly slandered is likely to maintain that calm detachment necessary for fair adjudication,” the foundation said.
The foundation said they believed that the justices - those who voted with the majority judgment, had “breached the Constitution and their oath of office”.
“This is so because courts are final arbiters on the Constitution's meaning and the law – a high duty that must be discharged without real or perceived bias.
“In conclusion, the Jacob Zuma Foundation denounces Judge Khampepe judgment as judicially emotional and angry and not consistent with our Constitution,” the foundation said.