Human Rights & Public Liberties

Human Rights & Public Liberties

Published on: 13 Jan, 2021

Former S African President Zuma spends first night in prison

Published on: 8 July, 2021


Former South African President Jacob Zuma turned himself over to the South African police less than an hour before midnight on Wednesday.

He has handed himself in to start serving the 15-month sentence imposed by the Constitutional Court after finding him in contempt of court on 29 June.  The court ordered Zuma to report to the police by Sunday evening.

On 2 July Zuma asked the Constitutional Court to annul his 15 year sentence. The Court will hear this application on 12 July.

Over the weekend hundreds of his supporters gathered at his home in Nkandla in KwaZulu Natal and vowed to prevent his arrest.

Police was instructed to arrest Zuma if he did not hand himself in by midnight on Wednesday.

Zuma, who is 79, spent his first night in prison in Estcourt Correctional Centre in KwaZulu Natal.

It is the first time a former president has been jailed in South Africa.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Elmien du Plessis professor of law at North West University said: ‘Since Zuma did not hand himself in on Sunday, he was again in contempt of court and it became the duty of the police to get him to a correctional facility. I presume he handed himself in after realising his  options are limited and he only did so after intense negotiations. This option preserved his dignity. He preferred to be taken in his own car than in a police van.’

Christi van der Westhuizen, associate professor at Nelson Mandela University said to Al Jazeera: ‘The message has been sent out loud and clear that no one is above the law. Zuma’s cronies and other corrupt networks will be very worried this morning.  If one thinks of Zuma at the height of his power what happened last night was unthinkable.’