PMB High Court to deliver judgment in Zuma's bid for stay of sentence

Jacob Zuma's lawyer Dali Mpofu told Judge Bhekisisa Mnguni that the former president would be prejudiced by the sentence – but counsel for the Helen Suzman Foundation and the state capture commission opposed Zuma's application.

FILE: Former South African President Jacob Zuma stands in the dock during the recess of his corruption trial at the Pietermaritzburg High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on 26 May 2021. Picture: Phill Magakoe/AFP

DURBAN – The Pietermaritzburg High Court is on Friday expected to deliver judgment on former President Jacob Zuma's application to stay his prison sentence pending the outcome of his rescission application in the Constitutional Court.

The country's apex court is expected to hear that application on Monday. It ruled last week that the former president was in contempt when he disregarded a directive that he must appear and testify at the state capture commission.

On Tuesday, Zuma's lawyer Dali Mpofu told Judge Bhekisisa Mnguni that Zuma would be prejudiced by the sentence – but counsel for the Helen Suzman Foundation and the state capture commission opposed Zuma's application, arguing that the Pietermaritzburg High Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

READ: Mpofu - Zondo commission has no business to try oppose Zuma's bid to avoid jail

Mpofu claimed that it was unjust for the former president to begin serving his 15-month jail term pending the outcome of his rescission application.

He argued that the fact the Constitutional Court agreed to hear Zuma's application was an indication that he had fair prospects of success.

Mpofu further argued that a more lenient sentence would be appropriate given Zuma's age, the COVID-19 pandemic, and his medical condition.

He explained that people should be 'shaken' by the fact that his client had been directly sent to jail without a trial.

Mpofu said it was irrelevant why Zuma had chosen to approach the High Court and not the Constitutional Court.

However, counsel for the state capture commission, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, countered Mpofu's arguments by saying Zuma had been given ample opportunity to cooperate with the apex court but failed to do so.

He argued vehemently that the former president should be imprisoned by midnight on Wednesday after he failed to hand himself over to authorities on Sunday as instructed.

He described Zuma as a recalcitrant and a deliberately defiant litigant, adding that he had taken the law into his own hands by failing to adhere to the first deadline to hand himself over.

Ngcukaitobi further argued that justices of the Constitutional Court were aware of the former president's age and the coronavirus when they sentenced him, suggesting that it was a waste of the court's time to entertain Zuma's application.

Zuma began serving his sentence on Wednesday evening.

He is reportedly in high spirits, according to his daughter Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla and Justice Minister Ronald Lamola who have interacted with him since being incarcerated.

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