South Africa's ex-president Jacob Zuma gets 15 months in prison for contempt of court
- South Africa's apex court has ordered Zuma, who was not present in court for the ruling, to hand himself over within five days to a police station in his hometown, or in Johannesburg.
South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma has been convicted of contempt of court and sentenced to 15 months in prison, news agencies reported on Tuesday. The 79-year-old South African leader was found guilty of defying a court order to appear at a corruption inquiry earlier this year.
Zuma was facing an inquiry probing wide-ranging allegations of corruption during his tenure from 2009 to 2018. The Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma defied an order by the country’s highest court by refusing to cooperate with the commission of inquiry, chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.
"Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is sentenced to undergo 15 months' imprisonment," a constitutional court judge said, reading out the court's order.
South Africa's apex court has ordered Zuma, who was not present in court for the ruling, to hand himself over within five days to a police station in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal province, his hometown, or in Johannesburg.
For the first time in South African history, a former president has been sentenced to a prison term.
Among several allegations, Zuma is accused of allowing three businessmen brothers -Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta- to plunder state resources and influence policy. The Guptas have denied any wrongdoing but left South Africa after Zuma’s ouster, which was orchestrated by the allies of his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Zuma had sent a 21-page letter to the country's chief justice in which he claimed to have been treated unfairly. Commenting on the letter, the judge said that the former president attempts to "evoke public sympathy through unfounded allegations fly in the face of reason."
"If his conduct is met with impunity, he will do significant damage to the rule of law," she added.
(With inputs from agencies)