Night of Drama for South Africa as Ex-President Zuma Goes to Jail

Jacob Zuma's motorcade sped out of his Nkandla homestead at about 11.20pm on Wednesday July 7, 2021, heading for a prison in the KwaZulu-Natal town of Estcourt. Minutes before midnight on the same day, Zuma's foundation announced on Twitter: "Dear South Africans and the World. Please be advised that President Zuma has decided to comply with the incarceration order. He is on his way to hand himself into a Correctional Services Facility in KZN." The motorcade arrived at the recently refurbished Estcourt Correctional Centre at about 1.20am on July 8. And at 2am, the Department of Correctional Services issued a statement confirming that Zuma had been admitted.

The former president's imprisonment follows a Constitutional Court judgment that found him guilty of contempt of court for disobeying its earlier order that he appear before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture to answer allegations from scores of witnesses about his role in state capture (political corruption in which private interests significantly influence a state's decision-making processes to their own advantage).

As Zuma begins his prison sentence, he is waiting to hear a ruling from the Pietermaritzburg High Court, which has reserved judgment until Friday July 9, 2021 on an application to stay his arrest. He has also applied to the Constitutional Court (the country's highest court) for the rescinding of its judgment, in which he was sentenced to 15 months' direct imprisonment. The matter has been set down for hearing on July, 12, 2021.

Zuma's lawyers approached the Pietermaritzburg High Court on July 6, 2021, to challenge his imprisonment before his Constitutional Court hearing next week. Judge Jerome Mnguni reserved his judgement to July 9, 2021. Today the judge said: "the application is dismissed with costs with such costs to inclue those of senior counsel". 

Zuma will remain at the Estcourt Correctional Facility until the Constitutional Court hearing, where his lawyers will argue for his release from prison on the contempt of court charges.

InFocus

Former President Jacob Zuma in April 2015, attending the opening session of the Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Southern African Development Community Heads of States and Government in Harare, Zimbabwe.

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