FORMER president Jacob Zuma began life in jail after he decided to hand himself over to prison authorities just minutes before the police deadline to arrest him lapsed.
The Jacob Zuma Foundation in a tweet before Wednesday midnight confirmed that the former president will spend his first night in jail to begin serving his 15 months sentence imposed by the Constitutional Court after finding him guilty of contempt of court.
Zuma according to the sentencing order of the Constitutional Court was supposed to have handed himself over to police by Sunday midnight failing which police were supposed to arrest him.
He missed his deadline and reports emerged on Wednesday night that Zuma decided to hand himself over as police were approaching his homestead and thereby avoided the embarrassment of being arrested by the police.
— Lirandzu Themba (@LirandzuThemba) July 7, 2021
It was not clear which prison facility Zuma was going to hand himself over but the apex court had signed a detention order for him to serve time at the Westville Prison. However, it emerged on Wednesday night that he was going to hand himself to Estcourt Prison where prison authorities were said to be waiting for him.
“Dear South Africans and the World. Please be advised that President Zuma has decided to comply with the incarceration order. He is on his way to hand himself into a Correctional Services Facility in KZN,” the foundation said, adding that a full statement would be issued in due course.
— Team News24 (@TeamNews24) July 7, 2021
His handing overcomes after the last-ditch attempt for him to avoid jail seemingly drew a blank from the Constitutional Court. His lawyers had earlier on Wednesday evening written to the apex court asking it to suspend his arrest until it hears his application to rescind his sentence scheduled on Monday.
His lawyers had proposed in a letter that alternatively the court can suspend his arrest pending the judgment of the Pietermaritzburg High Court hearing to stay his arrest.
And while the letter was being sent for the consideration, a move legal experts said was not an official court application but a mere letter which the apex may not entertain, a few of his supporters maintained a presence outside his Nkandla homestead.
The number of supporters had dramatically dwindled from the crowds we have been seeing since the judgment was passed.
Led by Zuma’s son Edward Zuma, the supporters some clad in the ANC banned MKMVA structure, has run-ins with any car that sought to enter the homestead. At some point, Edward Zuma turned away a private ambulance whose driver could be heard informing him that they were called to the homestead who said his father was not well.
But Edward was hearing none of it and sent the ambulance away which later came back and allowed inside. And as the midnight deadlines were drawing closer, a convoy of several cars was seen speeding off from the homestead, and moments later it was confirmed that Zuma was in the envoy and was on his way to hand himself over.
The police have also confirmed that Zuma was in its custody and the instruction to arrest him has successfully been executed.
“Mr. Jacob Zuma was on the 7th of July 2021, placed in the custody of the South African Police Service, in compliance with the Constitutional Court judgment,” said Police Minister Bheki Cele Spokesperson Lirandzhu Themba.
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