South Africa’s Ex-President Jacob Zuma has been accused of contempt of court and sentenced to 15 months confinement, news agencies reported on Tuesday. The 79-year-old South African leader was found guilty of challenging a mandate to appear at a corruption hearing earlier this year.
Zuma was surfacing an inquiry trialing wide-ranging accusations of corruption during his office from 2009 to 2018. The Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma opposed an order by the country’s highest court by refusing to coordinate with the commission of inquiry, held by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.
“Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is convicted to undergo 15 months’ imprisonment,” a constitutional court judge said, reading out the court’s verdict.
South Africa’s top court has directed Zuma, who was not present in court for the ruling, to surrender himself over within five days to a police station in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal province, his hometown, or in Johannesburg.
For the first time in South African history, a previous president has been convicted to jail.
Among numerous accusations, Zuma is convicted of allowing three businessmen brothers -Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta- to ravage state resources and influence policy. The Guptas have refuted any crime but left South Africa after Zuma’s eviction, which was orchestrated by the partners of his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Zuma had sent a 21-page letter to the country’s chief justice in which he asserted to have been treated unfairly. Commenting on the letter, the judge stated that the former president endeavors to “evoke public sympathy through unfounded accusations that fly in the face of reason.”
“If his behaviour is met with indemnity, he will do crucial damage to the administrative law,” she added.