Police Minister Bheki Cele will still abide by the Constitutional Court’s directive to arrest former president Jacob Zuma by Wednesday if the Supreme Court of Appeal does not respond to the ministry’s letter.
An attorney representing Cele and police chief Gen Khehla Sitole on Monday evening submitted a letter to the Constitutional Court, saying police would “hold further actions […] out of respect of the unfolding litigation”.
The letter was originally attached to the court papers Zuma’s legal team submitted to the Pietermaritzburg High Court where the former president’s application for stay of execution will be heard at 11.30am on Tuesday.
Watch: Police will arrest Zuma
In response, the Helen Suzman Foundation warned both Cele and Sitole that the Supreme Court of Appeal’s decision was clear and final, adding the SA Police Service (Saps) “remain[s] bound to act as per its terms”.
In the letter, law firm Webber Wentzel says its client “respectfully points out that there is no obligation on the Constitutional Court to issue directions, as its order is the ultimate direction”.
No special treatment
The foundation said the police’s treatment of Zuma was “unlawful, unconstitutional and prejudicial to the public interest”.
It urged Cele to withhold special treatment and treat Zuma as it would “any other individual so convicted and sentenced”.
“The minister and the commissioner’s duties are clear and final. They are set out, unequivocally, in the order. And if the order is not stayed by a court of competent jurisdiction, then the minister, the commissioner and SAPS remain bound to act as per its terms. They have no power to subvert, suspend or amend the order as they see fit, regardless of their reasoning.”
Contemp of court
Cele told News24 he was not prepared to “be charged with contempt of court”, however, he believes the police ministry was “thrown under the bus” by courts who “muddied” the judgment.
“As the police, we’ve been thrown under the bus. The Constitutional Court took a very clear decision. They gave Zuma a very clear timeline, they gave us a very clear timeline.”
“But then they took it back and they don’t tell us what to do with the space they had created.”
He said police will “abide by every court, despite the initial instruction now being “muddied”. He concluded by saving “somebody must clear that up for us.”