In a statement shortly before midnight, the JG Zuma Foundation confirmed that former president Jacob Zuma would be spending the night in prison, a fact later confirmed by the police.
“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. A full statement will be issued in due course.”
The SA Police Service confirmed in a statement after midnight that Zuma was arrested just before the deadline of the Constitutional Court.
Had this not occurred, the police minister would also have been in contempt of court, which Minister Bheki Cele said he was not willing to risk.
Earlier, a mass of cars had sped out of the Nkandla homestead at about three-quarters to midnight on Wednesday, with Zuma in one of the many SUVs.
eNCA’s political commentator JJ Tabane said that his sources had confirmed to him that the security cluster had given the former president an ultimatum to hand himself in before the deadline “or else”.
The foundation’s spokesperson, Mzwanele Manyi, rubbished this and said Zuma was merely complying with the law after exhausting all other legal options.
He once again took the opportunity to slam Zuma’s arrest as having happened without Zuma first being subjected to trial.
However, Zuma was sentenced on the basis of contempt of court.
Supporters massed at Nkandla were reportedly “dejected” at the news.
A Daymed ambulance that had initially failed in gaining access to the Nkandla homestead at about 10.30pm by the singing crowd led by former president Jacob Zuma’s son Edward was admitted closer to 11pm, as they suspected the vehicle may have been part of a ruse to arrest Zuma.
Reportedly it was there to help an elderly lady in need of medical attention.
When eNCA had earlier tried to gain clarity about the ambulance situation, Edward said it was unlikely there was an emergency situation at Nkandla or he would have known about it. He denied that his father was in ill-health. Edward later said they had clarified the matter and the ambulance would be let in.
It had further been reported that the Constitutional Court was allegedly sitting to consider Zuma’s attempt to have his arrest warrant stayed after they were sent a letter by Zuma’s legal team on Wednesday afternoon. This was not confirmed and in an interview with Manyi, he was unable to confirm it either.
Officials from the South African Police Service (Saps) were reportedly earlier on their way to Nkandla, while another motorcade had already entered the premises.
According to News24, Police Minister Bheki Cele was not in the motorcade that had entered the compound.
Ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said earlier on Wednesday that the minister would not be in Nkandla.
Edward, who had declared that he would die before his father got arrested, also tried to stop the motorcade from entering his father’s homestead, saying they would have to drive over him. He later told eNCA shortly before 10pm that he would be able to fight off a million men with the stick he was carrying.
He added cryptically that his father “is in South Africa”, without answering whether Zuma was still at Nkandla.
The crowd has said they did not care about the 9pm Covid-lockdown curfew, nor were they expressing concern about the spread of the virus.
Addressing the media, Zuma’s diehard supporter Carl Niehaus said Zuma’s advocate, Dali Mpofu, was engaging with authorities. Niehaus called on the police to “behave” themselves.
“I’m aware that his legal team, advocate Dali Mpofu, is engaging with the authorities. I spoke to Mpofu before I arrived here at Nkandla telephonically. I cannot comment on whether he [Zuma] will be handing himself to the police but I do know that Zuma has made it clear that he is not in favour of this arrest,” he said.
“I wish that Minister Cele and Saps behave in a manner that puts South Africa first, that puts stability and peace in South Africa first and not raise the tensions.”
Earlier: Zuma’s lawyers ask ConCourt to suspend his arrest for now
Zuma’s lawyers wrote to the Constitutional Court requesting a directive that the execution of the committal order for his arrest be suspended pending the outcome of the high court’s decision on Friday and the ConCourt application on 12 July.
The ConCourt sentenced the former president to 15 months in prison after finding him guilty of contempt of court last week.
The Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture approached the ConCourt on an urgent basis for an order that would compel Zuma to cooperate with the commission.
After being ordered to appear before the commission, Zuma released a statement accusing the commission and the ConCourt of victimising him. He vowed he would rather go to jail than appear before the commission.
The Jacob Zuma Foundation said it was “very concerned about unfolding developments” and would continue to monitor the situation closely.
“The Lawyers of our Patron, H.E Prez Zuma, are in touch with the relevant authorities. The Foundation will soon advise way forward,” it said.
In their letter, his lawyers asked the apex court for more time. The Constitutional Court appeared to have received the letter from Zuma’s lawyers asking the court to suspend his arrest for now. The letter was part of the court’s collection of letters and and affidavits relating to Zuma’s case.
“We write to request that you issue a directive in terms of which the execution of the committal orders of the Constitution is suspended pending the outcome of the judgment on Friday 9 July 2021, alternatively pending the outcome of the judgment to be heard by the Constitutional Court on Monday, 12 July,” it read.
“There is prejudice to the life of our client in the event of the judgment of the High Court ordering a suspension of the commital orders, alternatively the Constitutional Court, rescinding its orders.
“We understand that the Constitutional Court may direct the suspension of its orders, which if granted would be binding on the High Court, to prevent our client from being arrested prior to all legal processes being finalised. We await your urgent response.”