Jacob Zuma’s abuse of the courts must not be condoned – Zondo Commission
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Johannesburg - Jacob Zuma’s rights were not undermined and the former president had “gone to great lengths to avoid the consequences of his actions”, while he turned down the various opportunities at his disposal to assert his rights through court, the state capture commission has told the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
In papers filed at the High Court, the state capture commission of inquiry opposed Zuma’s application to stay his arrest until his matter is heard at the Constitutional Court next week.
Zuma made an urgent application to the Pietermaritzburg High Court to interdict Minister of Police Bheki Cele and the police from arresting him in the coming days.
The matter will be heard virtually and live-streamed tomorrow.
The commission has argued in its papers that the High Court lacked jurisdiction to stay or suspend court orders as its jurisdiction only extends to its own orders and not any other court, particularly a higher court.
An affidavit by the secretary of the commission, Professor Itumeleng Mosala, was submitted to the court along with its application to oppose the case. In his affidavit, Mosala said Zuma’s defiant attitude is what led him to this point and he abused the court processes to ensure he stayed out of prison.
“That is his modus operandi,” Mosala said.
He said the courts should not “entertain” such abuse any longer and continuously reiterated that the High Court needed to act within its jurisdiction – and this was not one of those cases within its reach.
“To suggest otherwise would wholly undermine the hierarchy of our court system, as prescribed by the Constitution.
“In the context of this case, Constitutional Court must be left to assert its authority, as well as to deal with the applicant’s persistent attempts to undermine that court and the judicial system as a whole.”
Mosala said that the court application was a “continuation of the pattern of abuse” of court processes by Zuma.
He said that, in any case, Zuma’s application did not satisfy the requirements for an interim interdict.
He led the court through the processes the commission followed to hear Zuma’s evidence.
Mosala said Zuma’s public statements that followed the commission’s decision to institute a contempt of court order not only “scandalised” the Constitutional Court, but also all other courts that have issued orders against him.
“It is evidently calculated to undermine public confidence in the integrity of the Constitutional Court and the judiciary more broadly. It exposes fully the allegations in the founding affidavit for what they are – untruths,” Mosala said.
He said Zuma had “persistently and belligerently” refused to recognise and engage in the court processes, leading up to the order holding him in contempt of court and his imprisonment order
Instead, Mosala said Zuma chose to make public statements in which he “deliberately and vexatiously” undermined the dignity and authority of the 25 courts and the rule of law, “and suggests that members of the public should do the same”.
He said Zuma had gone to great lengths to avoid the consequences of his actions and to undermine the foundational values of the Constitution.
“This cannot be condoned any longer. The applicant simply refuses to comply with orders lawfully issued against him,” he said.
Mosala added that Zuma’s concerns about his age and ill-health were matters he could raise with the Correctional Services authorities.