Zondo Inquiry to ask ConCourt to find Zuma guilty of contempt of court

Zuma failed to testify at the commission after the court ruled that its summonses are binding and that no one is allowed to leave until the chairperson excuses them.

FILE: Former President Jacob Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg High Court where he appeared on corruption charges on 15 October 2019. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The state capture commission will on Thursday ask the Constitutional Court to find former President Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court and if it does, to jail him for two years.

Zuma failed to testify at the commission after the court ruled that its summonses are binding and that no one is allowed to leave until the chairperson excuses them.

It's nearly two years since Zuma first appeared at the commission and he walked out in November last year.

In his opening statement, he alleged that former South African National Defence Force commander Siphiwe Nyanda and former Cabinet Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi were spies and then he spent the remainder of the two days answering that he didn’t remember or didn’t know until he ran out of time.

Then Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo gave him another week in November 2019 but Zuma spent another year saying he was too unwell was seeking medical attention abroad or preparing for his corruption trial.

He also added the COVID-19 pandemic to his reasons, he said like other people his age, doctors had advised him to stay at home, but for the first time, Zuma’s lawyers also said he wanted Zondo to recuse himself because he was biased due to their family ties.

In September 2020, irate Zondo set a date of 9 October for the commission's legal team to make an application for a subpoena that would make it a criminal offence for the former president not to appear.

Zuma’s legal team didn’t make representations, so Zondo issued the subpoena for Zuma to appear on 16-20 November and gave him the option to testify via video link but Zuma went in person to hear his legal team argue that Zondo should recuse himself.

When Zondo ruled that he wouldn’t step down, Zuma left the commission before he was excused.

Zondo then made an application to the Constitutional Court asking it to find that Zuma had violated the Constitution and to issue an order compelling Zuma to appear.

The court granted the order in January, but Zuma hit back likening the court to the apartheid era and accusing it of making special rules for him like the apartheid government did with the late PAC founder Robert Sobukwe.

The commission had already set another week in February but again Zuma was a no show.

Zondo made another application to the Constitutional Court asking it to find Zuma guilty of contempt of court and sentence him to jail for two years.

On Thursday, the court will hear the application by the commission and Zuma’s legal team if he chooses to defend himself.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola on Thursday said every citizen was equal before the law.

He's warned failure to respect the law will drive the country into anarchy and lawlessness.

Lamola said this sent a concerning message to society.

“The Constitution reigns supreme. It is the highest law on the land and all of us as the citizens of the country are expected to comply with the Constitution.”

He said those in government and held high positions had to set an example.

“Hence it is important that everyone should comply so that citizens can see a good example. So that a message is sent that there is no one who is above the law, which is what the African National Congress always stood for through the Freedom Charter.”

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