Zuma set to argue his way out of jail in the Pietermaritzburg High Court

Former President Jacob was found guilty of being in contempt of a Constitutional Court ruling that he must appear and participate at the state capture commission.

FILE: Former South African President Jacob Zuma greets supporters in the gallery of the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on 17 May 2021. Picture: Rogan Ward/AFP

DURBAN - Former President Jacob Zuma is expected to argue in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday for a stay of his prison sentence pending the outcome of his application in the Constitutional Court.

It’s been exactly a week since Zuma made history as the country’s first citizen to be sentenced directly by the apex court.

WATCH: Zuma found guilty of contempt of court, handed 15 months imprisonment

He was found guilty of being in contempt of a Constitutional Court ruling that he must appear and participate at the state capture commission.

While Zuma has repeatedly said he was not afraid of going to prison, his latest legal bid contradicts that statement.

In a 34-page affidavit filed to the Constitutional Court on Friday, Zuma asked the country’s justices to reconsider their decision to incarcerate him for 15 months citing his age, medical condition, the COVID-19 pandemic and that he had received bad legal advice as the main reasons why he should not go to jail.

The apex court has agreed to hear Zuma’s application next Monday.

In a scathing judgement against Zuma last week, the court noted that he had been given ample opportunity to cooperate with the court but failed to do so.

In a media briefing on Sunday, Zuma referred to his prison sentence as unjust.

Some of those sympathetic to the former president have vowed to make their way to the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday morning to show their support.

However, Eyewitness News understands that the proceedings will take place virtually.

At the same time, the state capture commission is expected to oppose Zuma’s bid.

At his last appearance before the state capture commission in November last year, Zuma staged a walkout after its chairperson Raymond Zondo dismissed the former president’s application for recusal on the grounds that “Zuma failed to meet the test for a reasonable apprehension of bias”.

In an affidavit filed to the Pietermaritzburg High Court ahead of Tuesday’s proceedings, the commission’s secretary Itumeleng Mosala has argued that the court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain Zuma’s bid to stay out of jail.

IT DOESN'T WORK LIKE THAT

The Helen Suzman Foundation said a lower court could not overturn the Constitutional Court's ruling, which gave clear instructions for Zuma to be arrested after he failed to hand himself over.

Zuma said he wouldn't go to jail and said the Pietermaritzburg High Court first needed to hear his application for a stay of sentence. But the Helen Suzman Foundation's Anton van Dalsen said it didn’t work that way.

“It's clear, the order was made by the Constitutional Court just over a week ago, and it's not for a lower court to interfere. It's logical,” he said.

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