'Zuma is going to prison - he’s been convicted, he’s a criminal' - law expert

Former President Jacob Zuma is engaged in last-ditch efforts to stay out of jail to serve the 15-month sentence he was given for contempt, for failing to appear before the state capture inquiry and answer questions.

FILE: Former President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - The clock is now ticking down to midnight, by which time in terms of the order by the Constitutional Court, the police must have arrested former President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma is engaged in last-ditch efforts to stay out of jail to serve the 15-month sentence he was given for contempt, for failing to appear before the state capture inquiry and answer questions.

Constitutional law expert Professor Pierre de Vos said Zuma was already, in a sense, a fugitive from justice: “There is a court order, which says he should have handed himself over – he didn’t, so he is a fugitive from justice, in a way. The minister of police and the (national police) commissioner must take all reasonable steps to ensure he is arrested by tonight. If they don’t, they are in contempt of court. That’s it.”

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De Vos said that Zuma could go to jail and wait for the Constitutional Court to hear his rescission application, set down for next Monday, or approach the court again.

“The only court that can help him is the Constitutional Court – he can go to them and ask them: ‘please stay your order for imprisonment until you give a decision about the rescission application.’”

Bail is not an option, De Vos said, as Zuma was neither awaiting trial nor appealing his sentence.

“There’s no bail – he is going to prison. He’s been convicted, he’s a criminal.”

De Vos said that the police could also apply to the Constitutional Court before Wednesday midnight’s deadline and ask for more time in which to effect Zuma’s arrest: “That might actually succeed, especially if they can make a plausible argument that they cannot reasonably be expected to storm Nkandla with machine guns, and that that would be the only way currently to arrest him – some argument like that might fly.”

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