He is handed over to the Police to serve a 15-month sentence for contempt, whose compliance he had tried to delay on two occasions
Former South African President Jacob Zuma surrendered to the police late on Wednesday to serve a 15-month sentence imposed by the Constitutional Court. The 79-year-old leader was convicted on June 29 of contempt for refusing to testify before the commission that investigates alleged corrupt practices during his tenure.
The veteran leader of the anti-apartheid struggle left his residence in the town of Nkandla and went to the Estcourt prison in KwaZulu-Natal province. He will remain in isolation for two weeks – an anti-covid security protocol – and possibly live in a cell for the next four months before he is granted provisional freedom.
Zuma’s incarceration was a predictable event, despite two urgent requests from his lawyers to prevent his entry into prison. However, this cause is the lightest of a complex and ancient process that is not even limited to his period in command of the country between 2009 and 2018, when he had to resign forced by the African National Council, the ruling party.
The statesman faces 16 charges of extortion, corruption, fraud, tax evasion and money laundering, derived from his involvement in an arms purchase program in 1999. According to the indictment, the then vice president accepted bribes from the Thales business group, implicated in the awards. Zuma managed to stop his prosecution when he was elected as a candidate for head of state in 2007, but three years ago the Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the reopening of his prosecution.
The ‘Gupta scandal’
The arrival to the maximum power allowed him to continue with a policy procedure continuously questioned. The court convicted him of using funds to restore his private residence, but the biggest scandal was yet to come. Ombudsman Thuli Madonsela published in 2016 ‘The Capture of the State’, a report detailing Zuma’s collusion with Indian brothers Atul, Rajesh and Ajay Gupta to create a business holding company. The president favored the achievement of public contracts for this family recently arrived from Asia and associated with his son Duduzane Zuma. Their power even allowed them to impose or bribe ministers and they have been described as an entire shadow government.
The funeral of Nelson Mandela, in 2013, already revealed the discredit of the then president, the protagonist of all kinds of bizarre anecdotes, such as the declaration that HIV was effectively fought by showering after having sex. The support of a clientelist network allowed him to remain in command of the first African power, although the deterioration of the democratic system was evident. The ANC only decided to remove him from office when his elite became aware that the announcement of his prosecution under the Arms Agreement jeopardized electoral victory.