Former president Jacob Zuma has made his prison bed and must now lie in it, the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg has heard.
Zuma was in the high court on Tuesday to apply to have the execution of the Constitutional Court order stayed.
Zuma ‘made his own prison bed’
Max du Plessis, for the Helen Suzman Foundation, argued on Tuesday that Zuma was asking the high court to interfere with the highest court’s order.
He said Zuma was not a victim, adding the case was about past and ongoing defiance of the rule of law.
He said the former president left the Constitutional Court no choice but to treat him as a man guilty of contempt, adding:
“The Constitutional Court did not make his prison bed, my lord, Mr Zuma made his own prison bed, and after carefully weighing his dignity and his liberty, the court ordered that he must now lie in it.”
No jurisdiction to suspend arrest
Du Plessis agreed with counsel for the State Capture Inquiry that the high court had no jurisdiction to suspend Zuma’s arrest. He said the Constitutional Court could only suspend its order.
He said the high court was being asked to do the “most incredibly, an extravagant form of intervention”.
The Constitutional Court found Zuma guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months in prison. He had until this past Sunday to hand himself over to the police, which he failed to do.
During the virtual hearing, Du Plessis said nowhere in court papers does Zuma explain why he approached the high court and not the Constitutional Court.
He said this was because Zuma knew his chances before the Constitutional Court was “vanishly thin”. He said the high court should tell Zuma that he had “climbed the wrong mountain”.
A ‘repetitive lawbreaker’
Du Plessis added there was no hope for Zuma’s rescission application. Du Plessis said the high court could not come to his aid because there was a binding court order.
Earlier, advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC, representing the State Capture Inquiry and its chairperson, described the former president as a “repetitive, recalcitrant lawbreaker”. He said his stay of execution application should be dismissed with costs.
Ngcukaitobi SC had also argued that Zuma had now turned to the high court asking it to assist him in “breaking the law” further, adding it should reject this.
He said this was a “grave matter”, and the court was dealing with a litigant who had defined himself outside the ambit of constitutional and judicial authority