Former President, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, Has Been Sentenced to 15 Months Imprisonment for Contempt of Court

The constitutional court has found that the former president, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, is guilty of contempt of court, and has sentenced him to 15 months in prison. The Helen Suzman foundation was admitted as amicus curiae in the application and welcomes the court’s findings as a victory for the rule of law in South Africa.

The Helen Suzman Foundation welcomes yesterday’s judgment of the Constitutional Court in the application brought by the Secretary of the State Capture Commission to have former President, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, declared in contempt of court. The finding is a resounding victory for the rule of law in South Africa, signalling unequivocally that the duty to abide by court orders is essential to the functioning of our constitutional democracy.

Further, the HSF is pleased that the Court admitted the HSF as amicus curiae in the matter, having found that our submissions were relevant and helpful to the Court. A more detailed comment on the judgment will follow this press release in due course, but for the time being, the following aspects of the judgment are worth pointing out:

  • Mr Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court and was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment.
  • If Mr Zuma does not submit himself to the South African Police Service, at Nkandla Police Station or Johannesburg Central Police Station, within five calendar days from the date of judgment (29 June 2021), the Minister of Police and the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service must, within three calendar days take all steps that are necessary and permissible in law to ensure that Mr Zuma is delivered to a correctional centre.
  • Mr Zuma will have to pay the costs of the application in his personal capacity.
  • The majority judgment is replete with laudable affirmations of the rule of law, summed up well by our Acting Deputy Chief Justice’s concluding remarks as follows:

The right, and privilege, of access to court, and to an effective judicial process, is foundational to the stability of an orderly society. Indeed, respect for the Judiciary and its processes alone ensures that peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes prevail as the bulwark against vigilantism, chaos and anarchy. If, with impunity, litigants are allowed to decide which orders they wish to obey and those they wish to ignore, our Constitution is not worth the paper upon which it is written.

The HSF hopes that this moment in the history of South Africa will signal a renewed commitment to constitutional democracy and the manifold benefits it has in store for all South Africans.

The full judgment can be found here

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