South Africa: Former president, Zuma bags 15 months imprisonment for court contempt

After failing to attend before a corruption investigation earlier this year, South Africa’s constitutional court sentenced former President Jacob Zuma to 15 months in prison for contempt of court on Tuesday. 

In February, Zuma refused to attend the inquiry conducted by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, prompting the inquiry’s lawyers to petition the constitutional court for an order imprisoning him. 

The investigation is looking at allegations of high-level graft throughout Zuma’s time in power, which lasted from 2009 to 2018. Zuma denies any wrongdoing and has refused to assist thus far.

“Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is sentenced to undergo 15 months’ imprisonment,” a constitutional court judge said, reading out the court’s order.

Zuma must appear in court within five days, according to the judge. 

Zuma’s spokesman told eNCA television that the former president would make a statement later, but did not elaborate. 

Zuma is accused of allowing businessmen close to him, including brothers Atul, Ajay, and Rajesh Gupta, to loot state funds and influence policy. 

The Guptas, who also deny wrongdoing, left South Africa after Zuma was removed by backers of his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa has been working hard to re-establish investor trust in Africa’s most industrialized nation. He has, however, met criticism from a faction of the ruling African National Congress that remains loyal to Zuma.

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