South Africa


ConCourt finds Jacob Zuma guilty of ‘unprecedented’ contempt, seals sanction with 15-month jail sentence

Former president Jacob Zuma at the Pietermaritzburg High Court. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla / Netwerk24)

Zuma must hand himself over to the police station for an escort to a correctional facility in five days or the minister of police or police commissioner must ensure he is escorted to a jail three days thereafter if he does not. 

Judge Sisi Khampepe delivered a thunderous indictment of former president Jacob Zuma’s contempt of court on behalf of a Constitutional Court majority as she sentenced him to 15 months’ imprisonment on Tuesday, 29 June. 

Zuma has five days to present himself to a police station in Nkandla or the Johannesburg Central Police Station for transfer to a correctional facility to start his sentence.  If he does not do so, then she has ordered that Police Minister Bheki Cele or  National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole to take all steps to ensure he is delivered to a correctional centre.

Zuma was also ordered to pay the costs of two legal counsel of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, which brought the contempt charges in March.  

“It is the lofty and lonely work of the judiciary to uphold the Constitution at any and all cost,” said Khampepe as she delivered a blistering judgment for seven of the court’s judges. Two judges dissented in a minority judgment, arguing that a suspended sentence was the correct constitutional remedy for the former president’s failure to obey a court order to attend the commission’s hearings.

But the majority of the court disagreed. “When the constitutional safeguards are undermined so egregiously, it requires swift and effective action,” said Khampepe, as she read the judgment.  “Never before has the Constitutional Court been subject to the kinds of attack launched by Mr Zuma,” the judgment said.

Zuma has been a serial delinquent at the commission of inquiry. He appeared twice but on both occasions refused to answer any of the 40 areas of interest the commission wanted to quiz him on; on the second occasion, he left before being excused by the chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, which amounted to a criminal offence in terms of the Commissions Act.

The commission laid criminal contempt charges against the former head of state, but the Hawks have made no progress in that case. When Zuma failed to appear before the commission in January, the secretary of the commission, Professor Itumeleng Mosala, appealed to the Constitutional Court, which ordered Zuma’s appearance. He ignored the order, which resulted in the contempt of court direct appeal by the commission to the ConCourt.  

The judgment on 29 June was the outcome of that appeal, and the commission succeeded in its appeal for direct punitive imprisonment. It was awarded costs.

Speaking to broadcaster eNCA minutes after the ruling,  Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi,  described the ruling as “inconsistent”. He said judges were “cherry-picking what side of the pie is sweeter” as the judgment was not unanimous.  Manyi said the judgment was a “sad day today largely because judges are saying it’s unconstitutional” – a statement he made three times. A statement would be issued in “due course” after speaking to lawyers for the former president.

Carl Niehaus, one of Zuma’s biggest supporters, tweeted after the judgment: The imprisonment of @PresJGZuma is totally unacceptable. In fact it is an utter outrage! Now it is our revolutionary democratic right and duty to register our outrage, and resistance to this, in no uncertain terms, and we will! ✊🏾

100% Behind Msholozi! ✊🏾#HandsOffMsholozi! ✊🏾

— Carl Niehaus (@niehaus_carl) June 29, 2021



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • T Mac says:

    Fantastic news! This decision reflects the kind of courage we need if we are going to save South Africa!

  • Coen Gous says:

    At long last justice will prevail. Hopefully this will give the law enforcement agencies and the NPA the courage to pursue charges against those involved in State Capture

    • Alley Cat says:

      Agree, but I doubt the NPA lacks courage.. That Batohi is a tiger! I think that they lack resources.
      Let’s see what grootbek Cele does now… Wonder if he will be so keen to lock up a convicted person instead of threatening those who break the lock down..
      Might as well lock up clown carl at the same time for incitement?

      • Coen Gous says:

        Ditto….she is indeed….a tigress I mean! Just trust she will be able to get rid of some of the rot that still exist within the ranks of the NPA. Cele/Sithole? They would rather go and have tea alongside Zuma and Malema, with “No-house” keeping guard with his army dressed in fake camouflage war outfits

  • Karl Sittlinger says:

    He is not in jail yet…

    • Nick Griffon says:

      My thoughts exactly.
      I’m waiting to hear that he suddenly finds himself in Dubai, Cuba, Russia for emergency medical treatment.

  • Peter Bartlett says:

    “Hoist with his own petard”; or as they say in Afrikaans “Hy het sy eie gat toegestop” 😜

  • David Le Page says:

    Phew, thank goodness. Much-needed boost to the credibility of rule of law. The judges were unanimous that he was guilty of contempt of court; they differed only in their view of the appropriate sentence. Here’s hoping it’s not the first time he’ll be getting time.

  • C Moola says:

    TWITTER; “Dear Juju and Ace, @PresJGZuma, can we please have tea urgently? Venue this time Cellblock D @ Sun City (the other one). DCS has plenty of tea. A meeting of national importance” RealPrez (@PrezJGZuma) June 29, 2021

    • Charles Parr says:

      @Weather report in Dubai – the weather is fine and warm in Dubai. No sign of rain for several years but plenty of money sloshing around.

  • Diederik van der Werff says:

    Surely after finally convicting him of a criminal offence, it is time to strip Zuma of all privileges and pensions once and for all!

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Both Niehaus and Manyi can keep him company.

  • Ryan Harris says:

    This judgement was exemplary in every respect. Well Done Con Court. You deserve the respect of all South Africans.

  • Peter Worman says:

    Hopefully this also terminates the illogical outpourings of Komrade Karl and can his statement be construed as a declaration of war? If so this is treasonous talk and should also ensure that he follows his master to jail

  • William Kelly says:


  • Ian Gwilt says:

    Sick note coming

  • Marissa Moore says:

    How to create a martyr: (With due respect to our highest court of the land; Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika)
    1) Find a country divided facing economic, social and health challenges
    2) Find a disgraced leader with paramilitary and radical support
    3) Charge him for an administrative crime with no apparent victim
    4) Deliver a split verdict with some constitutional concerns raised
    5) Sentence him to jailtime
    6) Give him time to hand himself over to the police
    7) Wait

    • Jeremy Doveton-Helps says:

      Criticism noted – but what would your suggestion be, Marissa? Without that, it simply seems a little churlish?

      • Marissa Moore says:

        Don’t read this as a criticism of the judgement, just a concern arising from forces wanting to destabilize the country with a easy Zondo/Zuma or WMC/RET dichotomy.
        JZ touted the CC to send him to jail, why?
        I would lean towards a lighter sentence on the contempt charge and then closing the loop around the charges relating to corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering.
        Gaining political support for a corrupt fraudster may be harder.

    • Katharine Ambrose says:

      I agree the wait is the worry. What could possibly go wrong!

  • J.F. Aitchison says:

    A great judgement. It cements the Rule of Law as being the ultimate justice in South Africa; and consolidates that NO ONE is above the law.

    The usual drivel from Niehaus; but what else can one expect from a such an obsequious sychophant.

  • Oh No says:

    Whilst the finding of guilty of contempt and the 15 month sentence of imprisonment is to be applauded, there remains one important and unanswered question: will he attend the commission to give evidence? There does not appear to be an order requiring him to do so. My reading of the matter is that Zuma has successfully ducked the bullet. He has effectively avoided having to give evidence at the Zondo Commission. He will probably serve a few months in a DCS suite prepared for dignitaries. He will certainly not be part of the general prison population -pity ! Realistically, we are not ALL equal before the law.

  • Miles Japhet says:

    JZ is a citizen like everyone else, so this is simple overdue justice.
    A person in his position knows full well that if we allow the breakdown of law and order, chaos will prevail.

  • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

    I predict that jz will soon be as terminally ill as his gabba shaik, so that cr can send him to play golf – doctor’s orders!

  • Gerhard Pretorius says:

    The judiciary has gained some lost ground. If Jacob will ever don his orange overall is a different matter altogether. The executive arm can also try to gain some credibility and trust by doing what the CCourt ordered. Seeing is believing.

  • Jeremy Doveton-Helps says:

    Carl No-Hope is a pathetic puppet whose strings have come untethered.
    Leaving him to flail aimlessly for a piece of driftwood as he sinks slowly into the cesspit of his own mindless vitriol.

  • Katharine Ambrose says:

    Are they guarding the airports and the helipad?

  • Hulme Scholes says:

    The smart money says he’ll test positive for Covid in the next few days ……

  • Geoff Young says:

    As welcome as this decision obviously is for law and order in our beleaguered country, the fact that so many (myself included) react with surprise just shows how upside-down things have become – any other legal outcome here would have been anarchic. And the ConCourt’s judgement is just Act II in this high drama, the final Act is yet to play out. My fantasy is that it involves some very unsympathetic gang members in the showers (pun intended) at Pollsmoor.

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