'An angry judiciary': Zuma likens today's courts to those under apartheid era

During a rare Sunday evening media briefing, Jacob Zuma told journalists that men and women sacrificed their lives so that detention without trial would never see the light of day in the country once its liberated.

Former president Jacob Zuma gives a public address from his home in Nkandla on 4 July, 2021. Picture: Nkosikhona Duma/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Former President Jacob Zuma has described his 15 months jail sentence from the Constitutional Court as a travesty to justice, comparing the courts in democratic South Africa to those in the apartheid era.

He has complained about the level 4 lockdown regulations comparing them to the state of emergency and expressed concerns over the country sliding into an apartheid-type rule.

During a rare Sunday evening media briefing, Zuma told journalists that men and women sacrificed their lives so that detention without trial would never see the light of day in the country once its liberated.

He continued to claim he was treated unfairly by both the apex court and the commission of inquiry into state capture; his guilty verdict is for refusing to testify before the commission chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

READ: Jacob Zuma's press address after the Constitutional Court ruling against him

Zuma has maintained that it’s not the commission he has a problem with - but the chair himself – earlier in the day he told his supporters that Zondo was also not Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s preferred choice.

The former president - after numerous days of tension building up right at his front door - finally broke his silence.

He again stated his position on the state capture commission and revealed what he thinks of the Constitutional Court judgment and what he calls the angry judges.

Throughout the evening, he compared his current situation with what he and many others experienced during the days of apartheid; Zuma again suggested the law was being manipulated and politicised to target him.

He also shared some of his concerns should he go to jail: “Sending me to jail during the height of a pandemic at my age, is the same as sentencing me to death.”

Zuma made mention of his ally Ace Magashule, who’s currently on suspension in the African National Congress (ANC), comparing that sanction to the banning orders of the 1980s.

Mentioning his own children, he then said the apartheid government never came for his family.

“This democracy deals with my children, they can’t be employed, and they harass their bank accounts.”

The former president will have to make a return at the Constitutional Court next week as he tries to get the judgment against him rescinded.

WATCH: Former President Jacob Zuma briefs the media


Zuma insists that he is not afraid to go to prison but he said his family and comrades had refused for him to start his 15-month jail sentence.

He said he was willing to return to prison and serve time as he had in the past.

The former president was found guilty of contempt by the constitutional court last week – he had until yesterday to hand himself in – failing which the police had three days to effect arrest.

He has applied for an urgent interdict against the warrant or arrest, set to be heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

The threat of violence spilling over in KwaZulu-Natal has been met with concern from several quarters of society, including the ANC and its alliance partners.

For the former president, none of it should be blamed on him, even though it’s happening in his name.

“The Constitutional Court made the judgment, not me. Why then should I answer if that’s good for the country.”

He’s told journalists that ideally, he wouldn't fight the sanction meted out against him but that his loved ones felt he should.

The former leader also said in spite of his age and ill health, all he sought was justice - arguing that he was not given a chance to air his side even though he refused to participate in Constitutional Court processes hearing the matter, instead opting to write open letters to the chief justice.

When asked if he would go to jail should his bid to get the judgment rescinded fail, this is what he said: “I think it is difficult, you want me to speculate. I don’t think I’ll be able to speculate what happens.”


The state of South Africa’s judiciary was unhealthy, so said former president.

He’s also criticized the Constitutional Court for its dealing with his matter, claiming it was more focused on punishing him for comments he made against it rather than handing out a sanction consistent with his contempt guilty finding.

He said there was certainly something wrong with South Africa’s courts.

“Even this judgment, if you listen to it, it’s an angry judiciary fighting not the fact that I was faced with the question of going to court or whatever but dealing with remarks that I made on what was happening.”

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