Bernadette Wicks
Senior court reporter
2 minute read
29 Jun 2021
4:50 am

Will Jacob Zuma ‘become a prisoner of the Constitutional Court’?

Bernadette Wicks

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, for the commission, has argued against giving Zuma a fine or a suspended sentence.

Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: AFP

D-Day has arrived for former president Jacob Zuma, with a ruling on his contempt of court case finally expected today.

In March, the Constitutional Court heard an application from the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture to have Zuma held in contempt over his refusal to take the stand, despite there being an order in place for him to do so. At the time, judgment was reserved.

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But now – three months later – the justices are ready to deliver their ruling. On Friday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) urged the court to finalise the matter “as soon as reasonably possible”.

“We are pleased that the court will finally hand down judgment in this matter. The DA trusts that Zuma will be held fully accountable for his refusal to comply with a summons to appear before the commission,” it said on Monday.

After all the commission’s efforts to get him into the witness box failed, it in January secured an order from the Constitutional Court compelling Zuma to make an appearance and answer its questions.

Regardless, he still refused. So, the commission went back to court in a bid to have him held in contempt and jailed for two years. Zuma, for his part, opted not to participate in either the January or the March proceedings.

Despite this, the court reached out to him after the latter and directed him to file an affidavit on what he believed his punishment should be, were he to be held in contempt.

But in his 21-page response, Zuma refused to oblige.

“I did not participate in the proceedings before the Constitutional Court and view the directives as nothing but a stratagem to clothe its decision with some legitimacy,” he spat back.

Zuma said he was “ready to become a prisoner of the Constitutional Court”. During the hearing, advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, for the commission, argued against giving Zuma a fine or a suspended sentence.

Ngcukaitobi said a punitive sentence was aimed at restoring the court’s authority.