Wednesday, July 6

Former South African President Jacob Zuma surrenders to the Police


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The former South African president Jacob Zuma surrendered early this Thursday to the police to serve a sentence of 15 months imprisonment for contempt of the highest court in the country.

Criminal authorities confirmed that Zuma “was admitted to begin serving his 15-month sentence at the Estcourt Correctional Center” in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, in the first time a former president is jailed in South Africa postapartheid.

By surrendering, Zuma ended a multi-day “impasse” that kept the country in suspense. “President Zuma decided to comply with the jail order,” his foundation said on Twitter.

Refused to testify

Zuma, 79, was convicted last week by the Constitutional Court, in a decision without appeal, for refusing to testify to anti-corruption investigators.

The event marks a historic moment for Africa, for being the first time that a former governor has been jailed for refusing to answer in a corruption investigation.

Hours before turning himself in, police warned they were prepared to arrest Zuma at midnight Wednesday.

Dudu Zuma -Sambudla, a daughter of the former president, tweeted that her father “is still in good spirits” and “said he hopes they still have their same Robben Island overalls … We salute you, Dad!”

Arrested with Nelson Mandela

The former president was detained for 10 years in the Robben Island prison, along with Nelson Mandela, during the apartheid era.

Zuma mounted a last minute defense and refused to turn himself in Sunday night, as the court had ordered. According to the ruling, the police had a deadline of three days to stop him if he didn’t turn himself in.

His defenders sent a letter to the court on Wednesday asking for a last-minute postponement, which did not happen. The former president also asked the Constitutional Court to reconsider and rescind the prison order, a request that will be heard on Monday.

“The Teflon President”

Zuma, whose tenure was marked by scandals from corruption and nepotism, left power by force in 2018 after serving nine years in office and being replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa.

His critics dubbed him “the Teflon president” because he always managed to evade justice.

His luck changed on June 29, when the court issued the conviction for contempt, after he refused to testify before a commission investigating the diversion of public resources under his government.

Despite his battered image, the former president has an important role among senior officials and rank-and-file members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Over the weekend he told his supporters that there would be chaos if the police “dared” to arrest him.

Born in a rural community where he received no formal education, he became the CNA intelligence chief during the fight against ‘apartheid’. Despite its internal tensions, the CNA said it would not interfere with Zuma’s judicial process.

Party spokesman Pule Made told reporters that “we respect the independence of the judiciary.” Zuma has also been accused of participating in a bribery case more than 20 years ago.

Face 16 counts of fraud, corruption and organized crime for the purchase in 1999 of fighter jets, patrol boats and military equipment from five European firms for 30 million rand, which was then equivalent to 5 billion dollars (6 billion euros).

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