JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – South Africa’s constitutional court on Tuesday ruled that former president Jacob Zuma was in contempt of court for failing to appear at a corruption inquiry earlier this year, and it ordered that he be imprisoned for 15 months.
Zuma failed to appear at the inquiry led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in February, accusing it of bias.
The inquiry is examining allegations of high-level graft during Zuma’s period in power from 2009 to 2018. Zuma denies wrongdoing and has so far not cooperated.
The court heard the contempt case in March and on Tuesday judge Sisi Khampepe said: “The Constitutional Court can do nothing but conclude that Mr Zuma is guilty of the crime of contempt of court… Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is sentenced to undergo 15 months’ imprisonment.”
Zuma has to appear before police within five days, the judge added.
A spokesman for Zuma told eNCA television that the former president would issue a statement later, without elaborating.
The allegations against Zuma include that he allowed businessmen close to him – brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta – to plunder state resources and influence policy.
The Guptas, who also deny wrongdoing, left South Africa after Zuma was ousted in a move orchestrated by allies of his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa has been trying to restore investor confidence in Africa’s most industrialised nation. However, he has faced opposition from a faction within the governing African National Congress party that is still loyal to Zuma. – Reuters