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Zuma’s journey to a prison sentence

After some 20 years’ dodging justice on the arms deal Jacob Zuma will soon be behind bars for a different reason.
Never before has the legitimacy of the Constitutional Court been subjected to ‘the kind of sacrilegious attacks’ launched by the former president (2018 file photo). Image: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

It was on March 25 that the Constitutional Court heard the urgent contempt of court application brought by the Zondo Commission of inquiry against former president Jacob Zuma. The Helen Suzman Foundation joined the application as amicus curiae (friend of the court).

The court handed down its judgment on Tuesday (June 29).

The majority found Zuma guilty of the crime of contempt of court for failure to comply with the order made by the same court in January, and sentenced Zuma to 15 months in prison, with no right to appeal. Zuma has been given five days to hand himself over to either the Nkandla or Johannesburg Central police stations.

Judges Jafta and Theron penned a minority dissenting judgment which holds no sway over the majority judgment.


Certain allegations had been made to the Public Protector concerning state capture and the then president Zuma, which she outlined in a report issued in 2016. The Public Protector recommended that a commission of inquiry be appointed to investigate these allegations.

Zuma established the commission, and drew up the terms of reference which covered the allegations flagged by the Public Protector, despite the fact that he was implicated as one of the culprits.

ConCourt ordered Zuma to testify

On January 28 the Constitutional Court ordered that Zuma:

  • Must appear and give evidence before the commission on the dates determined by it.
  • Does not have a right to remain silent in proceedings before the commission.
  • Is entitled to all privileges under Section 3(4) of the Commissions Act, including the privilege against self-incrimination.
  • Must pay the commission’s costs in Constitutional Court, including the costs of two counsel.

Zuma decided not to participate in these proceedings, and the court noted: “This means that the matter will be determined on the basis of the version provided by the Commission.”

The ConCourt opined that “if the attendance of a witness is sought, a summons should be issued, directing the witness to appear before the commission on a specified date” and that “Once a summons is duly signed by the secretary, it should be served upon the witness …”

The court also noted that if a witness fails to appear at the appointed time, they would be guilty of an offence, and liable to a fine and/or imprisonment.

The court confirmed that the Zondo Commission was investigating matters of public concern, and that the terms of reference placed Zuma at the centre of the investigation, such as:

  • Whether Zuma informed the Guptas about appointments to the cabinet.
  • Whether Zuma had unlawfully facilitated the awarding of tenders by state-owned entities to the Gupta family or any other person or company.
  • Whether Zuma had abdicated his constitutional power to appoint cabinet members to a private family and whether he had acted unlawfully.

Zuma’s participation was essential in order to properly investigate these matters.

Zuma’s response to the January court order

Zuma’s response was to issue a public statement in which he alleged that the Zondo Commission and the Constitutional Court were victimising him, driven by political motives. He also did not attend the commission as required by the summons, and as directed by the ConCourt.

Zuma addressed a 21-page, unsigned letter to the ConCourt, and did not furnish an affidavit.

Zondo Commission’s submission

At the hearing the Zondo Commission submitted that:

  • Zuma’s conduct constitutes a particularly egregious affront on judicial integrity, the rule of law and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa itself.
  • That it is appropriate that the court deal with Zuma’s calculated efforts to undermine the administration of justice and public trust in the judiciary.
  • And that this should be dealt with on an urgent basis as Zuma’s conduct poses a grave threat to the administration of justice and the rule of law.
  • And Zuma wields the power to inspire others to defy courts.
  • Zuma has effectively conducted a politically-motivated smear campaign of this court, the commission and the judiciary.

Zuma’s marked disregard for the authority of the highest court in the country

The Constitutional Court found that Zuma had “demonstrated a marked disregard for the authority of this Court and is resolute in his refusal to participate in the Commission’s proceedings”, and “has done more than enough already to deserve a punitive sanction”.

The court further said: “The extent and gravity of the contempt in this matter is singularly unprecedented and absolutely inimitable.”

And that a fine or suspended sentence would be inappropriate.

It noted Zuma’s “unfounded accusations and insults”, and decided to only deal with one: Zuma’s insistence that commission chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo recuse himself from the commission.

The court dealt with this swiftly. “Of course, this view is totally misconceived and calculated to confuse the public. If Mr Zuma did not want to participate in the Commission’s hearings whilst his review application was pending, it was open to him to seek an interim stay of proceedings insofar as they related to him.”

The court also expressed the view that as former president, Zuma had a “heightened obligation … by virtue of her or his position … to conduct her or himself in a manner that accords with the Constitution”.

The court found that Zuma’s conduct is “all the more outrageous when regard is had to the position that he once occupied”.

It stated that: “Never before has the legitimacy of this Court, nor the authority vested in the rule of law, been subjected to the kind of sacrilegious attacks that Mr Zuma, no less in stature than a former President of this Republic, has elected to launch.

“Never before has the judicial process, nor the administration of justice, been so threatened,” said Acting Chief Justice Sisi Khampepe.

“It is my earnest hope that they never again will.”

Is this a wrap?

After some 20 years of dodging justice on the arms deal, and after some three years of the Zondo Commission hearing testimonies on state capture, Zuma will be going to prison for a completely different reason – his refusal to cooperate with the commission, his refusal to give his side of the story, and his insistence on remaining silent, and ultimately, ignoring the direct order of the Constitutional Court.

The presumption of innocence – that one is innocent until proven guilty – is a basic legal principle.

But one cannot cry ‘I am innocent’ in the face of mounting evidence without attempting to rebut it and shunning a fundamental right enshrined in the constitution, the right to be heard.

Listen to Nompu Siziba’s interview with Standard Bank Group chief economist Goolam Ballim (or read the transcript here):




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Zuma’s journey to a prison sentence is actually a sad and sorry tale of the degradation of the ANC into a Cabal of Thieves.

It’s a dreaded combo of our electoral system and the corruption of and within the ANC.

Not a innocent cadre is to be found. Not one.

I really do not care for Mr. Zuma may he rot in jail.

He has enriched himself at the expense of all South Africans.

He has destroyed so many South Africans economic future’s.

I myself have lost 10 years of my working life because of his greed, corruption and theft.

Agree…irreparable destruction caused! ( just want to add: mismanagement )

He will probably be out on parole after one month?

The question remains:

Was he the only one?

In layman’s terms, the Rand dropped from R5 to R15 for $1 during Mr. Zuma’s term of corruption and absolute destructive looting.

Thus every South African has become 66% poorer even if you were lucky enough to keep you job and lifestyle as was before Mr. Zuma took office.

Mr. Zuma was worse than a hundred Nuclear bombs and hundred Tsunamis for South Africa if you ask me.

When was the ANC ever not a gang of criminals?

Remember the “People’s War”?

They have always been criminals. The mistake was allowing them to take control of South Africa.

Number One is unlikely to ever spend a day in prison. He knows where all the skeletons are buried. And you do not ever allow such a person to go to prison…expect favours to be repaid

South Africa looks forward to him spilling the beans. With some luck, we might be able to confirm a group booking at the ICC.

exactly my thoughts ,zuma already calling on favours and reminding cadres who he will take down with him .

His legal fees must be astronomical. Follow the money. It’s impossible for him to pay them from a state pension

We are not all equal before the law in SA, not by a long shot. There is a different tract for the super rich and politicians. It’s impossible for an ordinary citizen to manipulate the legal system like this …. you simply don’t have the resources. The whole Zuma saga is a clear and obvious abuse of the justice system. The same is going to happen with Marcus Jooste. He has unlimited funds so will delay his day in court for as long as it takes. He will die of old age before he serves a day in jail. Another example is the endless Tigon saga … it’s been almost 20 years and it’s still ongoing. And worst of all we as taxpayers are funding this merrygoround which clogs up court rolls. Time for change here.

You could see that we are not equal just the other day when the elite strolled around at the G7 conference!

With him, nothing in writing will lead to him, all “favours” are done by insinuation, payments of any kind are done by others

This sleaze ball has a list of tactics up his sleave.
1) Scorched earth policy. Spill the beans on everybody.
2) The ANC will fly him to Dubai and know nothing about it.
3) Sick note.
4) Terminally ill vouched for by his ciban doctor. Soon to be seen sipping pina coladas next to the fire pool.
5) Corporal Niehaus will rally the troops.
6) Worste case his faithful foolish followers will burn SA to the ground, Winnie style.
7) Then there was Edward, this clown is going to die before they get to “Dad”.

So the next chapter of the laughing stock of the world unfolds.

Don’t forget Julius Malema part in all this . He delivered this corrupt man to South Africa as their new president when he was the ANC voice of no reason . You owe us an apology for your complete lack judgement…..

It may be news to some, but Julius Malema is STILL the ANC’s “voice of no reason”

They EFF are simply the ANC’s dirty-work wing. They create the noise to draw attention to themselves when there is too much heat on the ANC. They drive the racial divides. They promote lawlessness.

If the EFF were a problem for the ANC do you think they would get away with a fraction of what they get away with whereas the ANC rushes to deploy police to Cape Town beaches to harrass and arrest whites for trivial things during lockdown?

It seems as if the EFF is used as the gauge with respect to radical ideas and how it is accepted out there.

Now I am wondering???

If he does end up in an orange overall and he has to go for his arms deal court case will he get preferential treatment?????

1.) Will he go in the Orange Overall or a suit?
2.) Will he travel in the back of the police van?? Like other prisoners?
3.) Should he be addressed as Mister Zuma or just Zuma like other criminals?


When I installed some equipment in a prison I was told that all “clients” ( not called prisoners anymore) are called Mr. The prison warders have to respect the clients. It’s now called Correctional Services, not the Prison Service

Correctional Services or the Prison Service…

It still remains a butt hurting experience if you are not the “Number 1”

The legal system in South Africa has just passed a big test by showing no fear or favour. This indeed could be the catalyst that sets us apart from Zimbabwe. It now remains to be seen if the police have enough spine left to show similar resolve.

Jacob the convict was the heart of the ANC. He represents and epitomizes the ethos and ethics of the average ANC member. The current leadership structure is the kidneys and liver of this political body that tries to remove the toxins to restore vitality.

The heart of the ANC has been removed by the surgeon at the constitutional court. The ANC is a naked zombie with lipstick and a facelift who lives in Luthuli House and appears in parliament sometimes to uphold the facade of competence and vigour.

The voters should face the reality. Their government is dead. It has been poisoned by corruption and incompetence. Employment is flatlining and service delivery stinks.

The only reason why this simpleton fool ever became president is because there were people who saw that they could use him to get rich quickly and so they supported him. Some of them are currently sitting in Dubai and many others are still in government. He honestly and naively believes that he was elected on merit. Shame, one can only laugh at him.

Well, the wheels of justice turn slowly but do turn. Unfortunately Jacob will probably be dead or not compos mentis when the big stuff is up for final judgement. Hopefully this is also the last straw for the divided ANC. Let the RET faction go where ever they want to go and SA vote on who they want as their leaders. Realistically it will boil down to a choice between a “better” ANC or the RET/EFF clowns. Unlike the US did with Obama the majority of people in this country will not get themselves to support anything that appears non-white. The old saying that the people will get the government they deserve remains true. Let us hope that the majority of people realized they are poorer because of corruption, liars, fat cats and not because of Jan van Riebeeck.

Does he lose his state pension now?

Nope. Still gets full benefits as per News24.

Brilliant summary, thank you. Right proud of our judicial system!

He will get a “presidential pardon” from Cyril. For political reasons. That will show that the political elite is untouchable.

…Cyril will not upset the Zulu’s who dine with him

I’m thinking that foreign investor’s don’t read about this circus on Moneyweb every single day, if they did the Rand should surely be at R20 to the US$ !! Trump’s single most accurate comment on Africa stands, and has no signs of being incorrect!

This could be a moneyspinner for the Betting agencies, will he, or won’t he sit!?

It’s such a pity there is an alcohol ban at present because this is cause for huge celebrations, people should be out in the streets celebrating like crazy over Zuma’s sentencing. Such a positive sign of things to come, if people think this is no big deal then they need to open their eyes to the bigger picture.

A few years ago people would never have imagined in their wildest dreams that the day would come where Zuma would be sentenced to prison…and here it is! Sure, it’s only for contempt of court but it’s still a massive step in the right direction. This will send a message to all those corrupt individuals who think they are above the law to be very careful now. Zuma has always thought he was above the law, he did as he pleased for 9 years, he caused nothing but chaos and turmoil for this country during that time and now he’s days are numbered. Also, the mere fact that he is now sitting on trial for serious crimes is also cause for celebration. Watch this space South Africa because the times, they are a chanin’

I agree Tyran. We are in a much better space now than pre-Cyril. No one can argue against that besides the RET faction. The drag on a better future is the EFF/RET faction. That is why I cannot wait that the ANC split. That will hopefully put CR in a place where he can proceed at a quicker pace. The sad reality is that the minority in this country will remain second class citizens up against BEE, including my children born after 2000.

Next week’s article: “How Zuma managed to escape to Cuba / Dubai”

I wish he would……this country doesn’t need him and his family.

The journey to a prison sentence may not be what is seems. The recent 3 years may have been only an irritation in having to appear on the odd occasion he did before the commission. Other than that life has been normal and for all intents and purposes he has lived as he has wished to live, doing what he wants.

You have to look at this from the perspective of the fact that Zuma is a highly intelligent individual, in fact that was his position within the ANC for many years. Make all the jokes you like. People readily forget that 50%+ plus some can argue of this country still would vote for him over Cyril.

Multi-billionaires very rarely get incarcerated for decades unless they have upset some very powerful people. Let us not forget what happened when Des van Rooyen replaced Nene as finance minister for just 4 days. Not much investigation went into that 4 day period, as it took place over a weekend – central banks do not have weekends. Nene was removed because he was point blank refusing to authorise some highly dubious giant amounts of international transfers which literally had no paper work or were on the surface illegal. I do not have access to that information obviously it was only around for a couple days – but something like R87 billion was transferred in 13 or 14 transactions from South Africa to banks in Abu Dhabi in those 4 days – that was the transfers Nene refused, that was Van Rooyens only job. That is billions of USD and buys you a lot of clout/ leverage. From Abu Dhabi they were immediately disbursed again in smaller amounts some locally in the UAE and the balance to a variety of other sovereign domiciles – where is the big question.

At the same time or around that time the president made an unscheduled low level visit to Dubai – arbitrary and met with a low ranking official. However, the presidential jet took off and landed at one of the Abu Dhabi air force bases to offload pallets and cargo. making one more trip to do the same less than 24 hours later – do i have any idea what was being offloaded – no but i think we can make a good guess. Brighter people on here than me will be able to access those transactions on van Rooyens transfers although i am sure they were well hidden shortly thereafter and you do not really get more opaque than the UAE banking system.

What is my point – well at close to 80, most men consider that a full life, he has many wives and many children to continue his name, dynasty and inherit what is truly staggering wealth scattered across the globe.

Only an idiot would vanish overnight from the country, when he does not have to and has not had to. That would readily draw attention especially on whatever domicile he chose. There would be a magnifying glass on him – but playing this the way he has and these repeated well rehearsed lawyers dropping him for non payment, or him not being able to afford lawyers – come on man 🙂 . He knows 30 million people at least are on his side, he knows that the incumbent must walk a very fine line lest he unleashes bipartisan civil war, to add to our Eskom, water and massive lockdown unemployment woes which are now spiralling. A Zuma match could be all he needs on what is already a dumpster fire of an economy you do not add more gasoline.

This way the people that are anti Zuma get to feel they have some justice, that he is not above the law – maybe serving a sentence for a few months that is then commuted for ‘health’ etc or compassionate grounds – or covid infection etc – for many they will be over joyed he served some time. Government as we can see are parading around the media today stating that no one is above the law and we are all equal – b#llshit. There are those talking about all the other sentences that might be handed out to him, re state capture, the arms deal (really), most of our sitting cabinet were involved in that directly or indirectly in one way or another.

Cases like this take a decade or more – unless they are planning to hand these sentences out posthumously 15 months will be about it for now. With what this country and world are about to enter, in terms of global civil unrest, unravelling supply chains, exploding food prices and shortages – have you checked your grocery bill lately – (look at iron ore and the baltic freight index), by the time we are in the 2022-2024 time zone believe me no one in this country will be giving a hoot about what Zuma did or didnt do.

Look at the Gigabas and Gamas of the world they treat the Zondo commission with utter contempt and live millionaire lifestyles with absolutely no cash shortages. We still have to extradite the Guptas, so unless they have really p#issed off the ruling families of Abu Dhabi and Dubai i do not see that happening any time soon.

Meanwhile the state capture funds, well over R100 billion to this man/ Guptas alone is scattered all over the globe, ensuring his comfort no matter where he lands up.

Someone mentioned scorched earth – oh yes, can you imagine what he knows, where the bodies are buried, from the arms deal days to the last Gupta deals, he could take down hundreds of cadres and likely has that on USBs in 2 dozen different locations – my final point then is some trade off will be made and at 80 you worry about your family and their futures not yours. My personal opinions this has been well planned and executed for many years ahead of the final curtain and is far from over. He has done what every man dreams of, created a dynasty, untold wealth and set his family up for generations likely in positions as high as he was.

As i said there are far more pressing things on the immediate horizon which should be worrying south africans, than an ex president that duped a nation and his own party – the ones he could not dupe were on the pay roll and still are.

Just my opinion.

15 months for destroying a country?? The adrenalin rush alone has got to be worth it for sure. Where does one sign up?

sorry to burst your bubble, but he will probably be out on parole in a months time!

Pretty young things are not recommended to wear a kanga in his presence

Mr. Zuma, the law is working.

I have been waiting for this moment for over 10 years.

Take my house, take my car, take my money as long as you rot in jail.

End of comments.





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