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South African court orders former president to jail for contempt.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma was found guilty of disregard for the court and sentenced to 15 months in prison for challenging a court order to appear before an investigation to investigate widespread corruption allegations during his 2009-2018 tenure.

Zuma failed to appear in court on Tuesday for the verdict and was ordered to present himself to a police station in his hometown of Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal province or Johannesburg within five days.
If Zuma does not surrender within five days, the South African police minister and commissioner have been ordered to arrest him within three days.

This is the first time in South African history that a former president has been sentenced to prison.

“Ultimately, Zuma will be where it belongs: behind bars,” said opposition politician Herman Mashaba in response to the verdict.

“This is indeed a victory for all South Africans who are fed up with those who sacked our country with impunity,” Mashaba, former Johannesburg mayor and ActionSA party leader, said in a statement. “The ruling is equally a victory for the rule of law in South Africa and once again underlines the independence of our judiciary. It is a central pillar of our hard-won democracy.”

South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, ruled that Zuma defied an order from the country’s highest court by refusing to cooperate with the investigative commission headed by Supreme Court Vice President Raymond Zondo.

“The Constitutional Court finds that there can be no doubt that Mr Zuma is disobeying the court. Mr Zuma has received the order and it is impossible to conclude anything other than being clearly aware of what was required of him . ” That said the presiding judge Sisi Khampepe.

He added that in setting the prison sentence for Zuma, the court could not conclude that he would obey any other order.

“Mr Zuma has repeatedly reiterated that he would rather be detained than cooperate with the commission or comply with the order,” said Khampepe.
Zuma has previously refused to appear before the commission, which has previously heard evidence directly implicating Zuma in wrongdoing.

In an earlier 21-page letter to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, whom the court described as “scandalous,” Zuma said he was ready to go to prison.

In his published letter, Zuma alleged that the chairman of the commission, Zondo, was biased against him and that the evidence presented against him was politically motivated.

Some former cabinet ministers, senior government officials and executives of state-owned companies are among the witnesses who have drawn Zuma into acts of corruption.

Several have testified that President Zuma allowed members of the controversial Gupta family to influence his appointment as cabinet minister and lucrative contracts in state-owned companies.

Zuma also faces other legal issues while on trial for bribery allegedly received during the 1999 arms deal with South Africa.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges and his attorneys called for the chief prosecutor to resign on alleged bias against Zuma.

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