South African court agrees to hear Zuma’s challenge to prison sentence

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NKANDLA, South Africa, July 3 (Reuters) – A South African court on Saturday agreed to hear ex-President Jacob Zuma’s challenge to a 15-month prison sentence for failing to attend a hearing for bribery, as hundreds of his supporters gathered outside his home in a show of force.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday sentenced Zuma to 15 months in prison for having fled in February from the investigation led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Zuma had until the end of Sunday to surrender, but on Saturday the court agreed to hear his claim, staying the order.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has announced that the court will hear its claim on July 12.

The prison sentence has been seen as a sign of the downfall of Zuma, once revered as a veteran of the fight against the white minority regime, since he embarked on a presidency plagued by multiple scandals of corruption and corruption between 2009 and 2018.

Its struggles have divided the ruling African National Congress, which canceled an executive committee meeting this weekend in order to focus on the ensuing crisis.

The ex-leader asked the court to quash the sentence on the grounds that it is excessive and could expose him to COVID-19. Read more

“When somebody says please listen to me… and then we have a court that says ‘OK, we’re ready to listen to you’, that’s the kind of justice system that people have died for in this. country, ”said the Jacob Zuma Foundation. in a report.

In his hometown of Nkandla, Zuma, who has not spoken to his supporters, wore a black and gold tropical shirt as he walked through the crowd, but no mask. He was guarded by men dressed as traditional warriors of his Zulu nation, wearing leopard skins and holding spears with oval cowhide shields.

“They can give Zuma 15 months… or 100 months. He won’t even serve a day or a minute from that,” his son Edward Zuma told Reuters at the rally. “They should kill me before they get their hands on him.”

In a request to quash the decision submitted on Friday, Zuma said going to jail “would put him at the highest risk of death” from the pandemic as he was nearly 80 years old and had a health problem.

Zuma also called the sentence “a political statement of exemplary punishment.” He claimed he was the victim of a political witch hunt and that Zondo was biased against him.

Zuma bowed to pressure to step down and cede to his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, in 2018, and since then has faced several attempts to get him convicted of alleged corruption during and before his tenure as president.

The Zondo Commission is examining allegations that he allowed three Indian-born businessmen, brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta, to plunder state resources and influence policy. He and the brothers, who fled to Dubai after Zuma’s ouster, deny the wrongdoing.

Zuma also faces a separate legal case involving a $ 2 billion arms deal in 1999 while he was vice president.

Written by Tim Cocks Editing by David Holmes

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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