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South Africa’s Jacob Zuma jailed for contempt of court in corruption case

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Jacob Zuma looking at the camera: Jacob Zuma set up the panel himself under pressure over mounting scandals, shortly before he was ousted in 2018 - MUJAHID SAFODIEN /AFP
Jacob Zuma

South Africa’s top court on Tuesday handed former president Jacob Zuma a 15-month jail term for contempt of court following his refusal to appear before graft investigators.

“The Constitutional Court can do nothing but conclude that Mr Zuma is guilty of the crime of contempt of court,” judge Sisi Khampepe said.

Zuma, 79, is accused of enabling the plunder of state coffers during his nearly nine-year stay in office.

Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma

Former South African President Jacob Zuma gestures as he arrives ahead of his corruption trial at the Pietermaritzburg High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on May 26, 2021. – Jacob Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering relating to a 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military gear from five European arms firms for 30 billion rand, then the equivalent of nearly $5 billion. He is accused of accepting bribes totalling four million rand from one of the firms, French defence giant Thales. (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“This kind of recalcitrance and defiance is unlawful and will be punished,” Ms Khampepe said.

“I am left with no option but to commit Mr Zuma to imprisonment, with the hope that doing so sends an unequivocal message… the rule of law and the administration of justice prevails.”

“The majority judgement orders an unsuspended sentence of imprisonment for a period (of 15 months),” she declared, ordering Zuma to hand himself over within five days.

The commission of inquiry is headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma, addresses supporters outside the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Wednesday May 26, 2021 where he faces charges of corruption. Zuma pleaded not guilty to corruption, racketeering, fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering. (AP Photo)© ASSOCIATED PRESS Former South African President Jacob Zuma, addresses supporters outside the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Wednesday May 26, 2021 where he faces charges of corruption. Zuma pleaded not guilty to corruption, racketeering, fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering. (AP Photo)

The panel was set up by Zuma himself, under pressure over mounting scandals, shortly before he was ousted in 2018 by the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

But he only testified once, in July 2019, before staging a walkout days later and accusing the commission’s Mr Zondo of bias.

He then ignored several invitations to reappear, citing medical reasons and preparations for another corruption trial.

He presented himself again briefly in November but left before questioning, and Mr Zondo asked to ask the Constitutional Court to intervene.

Duduzane Zuma (2nd L), the son of Former South African President Jacob Zuma smiles as he stands with Zulu warriors as they wait to be addressed by his father following the postponement of his corruption trial outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on May 26, 2021. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP) (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)Duduzane Zuma (2nd L), the son of Former South African President Jacob Zuma smiles as he stands with Zulu warriors as they wait to be addressed by his father following the postponement of his corruption trial outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on May 26, 2021. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP) (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)

Most of the graft investigated by the commission involve three brothers from a wealthy Indian business family, the Guptas, who won lucrative government contracts and were allegedly even able to choose cabinet ministers.

Zuma is separately facing 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering relating to a 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military gear from five European arms firms for 30 billion rand, then the equivalent of nearly £3.6bn.

At the time of the purchase, Zuma was president Thabo Mbeki’s deputy.

He is accused of accepting bribes totalling four million rand from one of the firms, French defence giant Thales.

Source: MSN

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