South Africa


Zuma provokes ConCourt in last-ditch bid to avoid jail while armed supporters at Nkandla defy lockdown

Former president Jacob Zuma makes a brief appearance outside his Nkandla homestead on Saturday, 3 July 2021, in KwaZulu-Natal, flanked by his bodyguards, Amabutho and supporters of the MKMVA. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

As armed Zulu regiments marched alongside Jacob Zuma at his homestead in Nkandla on Saturday afternoon, legal minds elsewhere were somewhat flummoxed following the former president’s challenge to a ruling from the highest court in the land.

The Constitutional Court had agreed earlier on Saturday to hear Jacob Zuma’s application for rescinding of its Tuesday judgment, wherein he was sentenced to 15 months’ direct imprisonment for contempt of court. The matter has been set down for hearing on 12 July. 

The apex court, in a majority judgment, found Zuma guilty of contempt for disobeying its order earlier in the year that he appear before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, chaired by now Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, to answer allegations from scores of witnesses about his role in State Capture. 

Zuma has until Sunday to hand himself over to police, failing which, the SAPS will have three days to arrest him. 

As reported earlier by Daily Maverick, the former president has also brought an application before the Pietermaritzburg High Court, to be heard on Tuesday, to stay the execution of his arrest and incarceration. If it is found that that court has the competency to hear the matter, it is likely to reserve judgment, meaning the arrest order will remain in force. 

South Africans have learnt two things this week: Street fighter Zuma is showing the country legal alleyways and judicial dark corners that are not commonly explored, and police have zero appetite to enforce Level 4 lockdown regulations at specific gatherings, such as the show of support that is playing out outside Zuma’s homestead over the weekend.

Supporters of former president Jacob Zuma gathered outside his Nkandla homestead on Saturday, 3 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Legal experts agree that, technically, in accordance with the Constitutional Court’s judgment, Zuma should be arrested by Wednesday at the latest. But it is more likely that the politically aligned SAPS will use the impending decision by the same court as an excuse to stall matters. 

Associate professor in public law at the University of Cape Town Richard Calland told Daily Maverick that the apex court likely had no choice but to hear Zuma’s review. 

Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule outside former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday, 3 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)
Former president Jacob Zuma makes a brief appearance outside his Nkandla homestead on Saturday, 3 July 2021, in KwaZulu-Natal. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

“There is a legal right to apply for rescission. I suppose they could have rejected it out of hand as entirely unfounded, but they – and Zondo – who is ironically now back at the court as Acting Chief Justice, probably felt that they needed to be seen to be very fair to him.

“The rescission application has zero prospects of success. So, it will be rejected on 12 July or soon after. And then we will be back to where we are now,” said Calland.

He said Zuma continued to find ways of using the strength of the rule of law – which he is so happy to attack – to avoid accountability.

According to Lawson Naidoo of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC), if the law is upheld, Zuma should still be arrested. His attempt to have this stayed or interdicted via the Pietermaritzburg High Court was based on “bad legal advice”. 

“What Zuma has brought before the ConCourt is a unique kind of review application and a review application does not stay the court order. He will have to apply specifically for an interdict to stay that order. The order remains in force and of effect, and he is liable to either turn himself in on Sunday or be arrested. 

“In my understanding, the KwaZulu-Natal High Court has no jurisdiction to grant a stay of execution of a higher court.  He would have to do that in the ConCourt and, unfortunately, and once again, he has had bad legal advice,” said Naidoo. 

Zuma stated in his papers to the apex court for his rescission application that one of the reasons he finds himself facing jail time is because of “poor legal advice”. 

Nevertheless, there is food for thought in this exhausting debacle. Finally, Zuma is operating within the justice system instead of outside of it. In effect, he has been forced, thanks to the sentencing order, to appear before the apex court where he will have to answer some difficult questions. 

Outside Zuma’s Nkandla homestead

Amabutho and supporters of former president Jacob Zuma gather outside his Nkandla homestead on Saturday, 3 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)
Former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal. (Photo: Leila Dougan)
Former president Jacob Zuma makes a brief appearance outside his Nkandla homestead. Zuma has filed an urgent application against the Constitutional Court ruling which sentenced him to prison for 15 months. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

As such issues were being mulled over on Saturday, the disbanded Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) continued to march in various fatigues outside Zuma’s homestead in the midst of Level 4 lockdown restrictions, which prohibit public gatherings. Vehicles continued to stream in, with Zuma supporters – many sans masks – tumbling out and joining the ample crowds. 

Zuma emerged briefly from his homestead to greet the couple of hundred supporters camped outside. The former president did, however, meet with the Zulu regiment inside his property. He said things would become “difficult” if he was made to serve jail time when he had “done nothing wrong”.

He implied that the government and judiciary had abused their powers, which could cause upheaval in South Africa. He said that he had predicted the Zondo commission would “end in tears”, because “no country has ever investigated its own government”.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairman Sihle Zikalala and provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli were at Nkandla to meet Zuma. Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule was also at the homestead.  

Zikalala told the media that the Constitutional Court judgment had “divided society, it has divided the people, especially in the province”. 

Zikalala, previously known to be a Zuma lackey, was jeered by some supporters and called a “sell-out” as he tried to explain that Magashule was making an appearance as a “comrade visiting another comrade”, instead of in any official capacity. 

The momentum outside the homestead continued into Saturday night, with many supporters saying they would be camping out in their cars. Police presence throughout the day had been minimal, with some patrolling officers stopping their vehicles to greet those they knew.   

Supporters come and go, of course, but to the local residents, Zuma is and will remain a hero. 

Sixty-six MaThusini Zuma – no relation – told Daily Maverick that the former president “should be left alone now”. 

“He is even older than I am, but they’re still after him. He is no longer the president. He is no longer in politics. Why are they still following him? Everyone is still after him.

The ANC’s Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association outside former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday, 3 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)
Amabutho make their way into the homestead of former president Jacob Zuma in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, on Saturday, 3 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)
Amabutho and supporters of former president Jacob Zuma gather outside his Nkandla homestead on Saturday, 3 July 2021.  (Photo: Leila Dougan)

“He really changed Nkandla. We have tap water and electricity now because of him. We have the tarred road because of him. He also took care of us, the elderly, with food parcels around Christmas, and blankets. Actually, it’s only last year that we didn’t get them, probably because of Covid. Even people from as far away as Durban came here for those food parcels and the meat, so he’s always looked out for his community. I am going to join the crowd later to show my support.”

Such is Zuma’s stature within the area that 41-year-old Hlengiwe Zuma (also no relation) offered to be arrested on his behalf. “He’s an old man. What will you achieve by arresting him?” she asked. 

“We had jobs while he was still here. Now they’re telling us to farm if we want food. We did farm while he was president but we were farming while getting salaries. Now farming is all we can do to get food. As you can see we are [growing] sweet potatoes.”

When Daily Maverick told Hlengiwe that the former president had defied a Constitutional Court order, she said: “Then arrest me in his place. He is too old.”

Seventy-five-year-old MaMambo took a slightly more pragmatic approach. “I can’t comment much on if he should be arrested or not because I don’t know what they say he did this time, but as a neighbour and someone I’ve always known, it hurts to see these things happening to him. 

“I’m not saying he’s innocent or guilty, because I actually don’t know much about politics – as you can see my TV is no longer working. Only they know what they did and didn’t do, but to see all these things happening to him, and hearing that he’s getting arrested, hurts.

“I knew him from when he was a boy, even before he dated MaKhumalo. I’m from the neighbouring village, but I was looking after a child from his neighbour. He was a bit older than me, as was MaKhumalo.

“He was never a troublesome boy, and even now as a man I’ve never heard that he shouted at someone or anything of that sort here. We only hear from the news that he is troublesome and we get surprised because that’s not the Msholozi we know. Like I said though, I don’t know what they do as politicians. I can’t comment on that.”

An ANC subregion chairperson, who asked that his name not be mentioned, was adamant that Zuma was the glue holding the governing party together. “That’s the bottom line. If Msholozi can come outside right now and speak ill of the ANC, do you think we would still have an ANC?” 

Zuma had “dirt” on other party leaders, he said, and if he made it known “the whole country would burn”. But he was disciplined by not revealing that dirt. “We are here to defend the ANC that we know Msholozi represents.”

According to his foundation, Zuma will “address the nation” on Sunday at 6pm. DM


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All Comments 44

  • It’s little comfort that I must be one of the millions who are absolutely devastated at this turn of events, and despair of any justice being meted out to the rich and politically connected.

    A radical revamp of both the political and judicial systems are overdue.

  • There is no groundswell of support for Zuma. By failing to report actual numbers of supporters outside Nkandla the media obscures this fact. The photos suggest that the “crowds” are relatively small, say less than 100, with maybe 20 MK vets. Zuma may be popular in the homesteads immediately abutting Nkandla, but as far as I recall, the ANC lost the ward in which Nkandla falls to the IFP in the last municipal election. This report fails to give that context.

  • For 4 days the Concourt judge dominated the headlines of all news media in South Africa, including DM online and DM168. “Victory for the rule of law”, with a massive V sign on the front page of DM168. Legal experts, journalists, weighing in on the decision of Concourt, all proclaiming the same thing. And now, on the 5th day, it appears that all those experts might have got it wrong. If Zuma escape this judgement, it is anything but a victory. It will be a massive loss not only for the “rule of law”, but a loss of credibility of all court judgements, news media, and journalists. It will be a victory for Zuma, for Magashule, and all those involved in State Capture. The world will laugh at South Africa, and they will have every right to laugh

  • Sihle Zikalala, it’s not the ConCourt that has “divided society” as you put it; but Zuma himself!
    And without a doubt, he has been on the receiving end of “bad legal advice”! I bet Shut-up Mpofu is behind this 🤗
    He’s also surrounded himself with criminals; with aunty Carl and Ace up his sleeve making noise!
    So relax SA, sit back and let the games begin (to come to an end); his last application will fail.
    There’s an Afrikaans saying “Slim vang sy Baas . . .” so it’s nearly game up for JZ! Strange though, where are Bheki’s boys in blue?

    • That is precisely the issue. Will those with the power to enforce the law actually enforce it? If not, we are in a very bad situation.

  • Is there anyone or any institution, private or public,with any inkling of credibility left in our Banana Republic?

    • The whole World looks and laughs. From cattle herding to wrecking a Country. His middle name, Gedleyihlekisa, means “one who smiles while causing you harm”.

      • Actually…no! The world is very impressed that Zuma has actually been found guilty – of contempt – & been sentenced. There aren’t too many countries where this happens to politicians…including that paragon of democracy, the USA.

  • This can only end in tears for Zuma and his supporters. I don’t for one minute think that he’ll serve his full sentence but for now the Concourt is going to say ‘you’ve been sentenced to 15 months jail now off you go’. Whether that is obeyed or not is a different issue.

    • Charles, maybe you are right, but maybe not. The pure fact that the Concourt has agreed to hear Zuma’s application for rescinding is already flawed. And then, on the day he must hand himself over, they will take another 9 days to hear the application. What then, another 4 months before they again make a judgement, when judgement was already made. And in that time the destruction by Zuma and his supporters will continue. And now the PP will also make an application for rescinding on her judgement made on Thursday. Who’s next, Magashule, Mordack, Tom, Dick, Harry? Clearly, the more political power and money you have, the more you are protected.

      • Coen, my take on this is that the Concourt is humouring Zuma by hearing him so that he can’t say that he wasn’t heard. I think the honourable judges are gatvol of this man and will slam him away and the High Court will simply say that they have no jurisdiction over Concourt matters. I’m no legal eagle but this whole thing has been designed purely to test the patience of everyone involved and I can’t see the courts accepting this any further. The alternative is to provoke a real rabble rousing revolution but I can’t see the young people going for that as they’ve lost too much in the name of this utter rubbish which is referred to as democracy. Put simply, there has been no democratic dividend for the majority of people in this country.

        • Lets hear what Zuma will say tonight, although it will possibly in Zulu. Know a few words, but not enough to follow a conversation. I hope you are right, but wonder how long they will take. The Concourt is not a court that make quick judgements

  • I really look forward to HelenSuzmanFoundation or such charging Cele for contempt of court for not arresting Zuma. We can get a nice domino effect going here.

  • DM needs some input from the legal heavyweights:

    Surely the Maritzburg High Court can not issue anything that binds Constitutional Court in any way?

    The rescission application does not pause the ConCourt sentence? So in theory he must report or be arrested and await outcome of rescission from jail cel?

  • I just want to give a big thumbs up to the photographers who are central to this article. The photo’s are awesome. If we did not know the story behind them, it would be happy photos, especially the photo of the amabuthu warrior and the young girls dancing. The clarity and colours are really good.

  • Sadly “the law” has become a game played by the rich and politically connected. The middle class play a cynical game of monopoly with what they can salvage. The poor have no game to play, reduced by Zuma and his ANC to growing a few sweet potatoes in order to eke out a meagre existence.

    • Welcome to a game we in Zimbabwe have mastered. It’s called ‘Catch and Release’. We watch with interest these developments, as when Law and Order fails, the very fabric of what we know as organised society will ultimately fail. We cannot afford SA to fall apart.

  • It would be interesting to hear who the legal professional is who he says, according to his application to the court, gave him poor legal advice!

    • What ? You mean people like dilly Dali could give ‘poor’ legal advice ! No matter how poor or dilly the advice, dilly Dali does not provide advice for ‘free’ … of that you can be sure ! These smart guys have found a new/different ‘trough’ to feed from … now that his pals with the VBS connection, don’t have that resource !

  • The goings on at Nkandla have the potential to send us down the road to a second Marikana style massacre if SAPS arrive to arrest Zuma right now. A different style of censure, for example removing his retirement “privileges”, would place the ball back into Zuma’s court, and draw him out – instead of chasing him all the time, which is happening now. As things stand, this cannot end well. Our reputation as a respectable country has unfortunately already been shot to hell, thanks to Zuma with ANC support.

  • “Mr President, Our Prayer to You”
    Dear Mr President, Like most of the nation who have a roof above their heads, I was glued to your address last Sunday where you expressed more stringent lockdown measures in the face of an escalating third wave. As you pleaded with the nation to adhere more closely to the level 4 restrictions, I felt a rising sense of rage. I asked myself why I felt such anger as I listened. And the answer was clear. What moral right do you have, Mr President, to beseech us, the people of South Africa to do better, while you and your government have forced the economy and the living conditions of your people to a level that would be unimaginable to our founding father Nelson Mandela, whose very words you quoted in your address. The list of disasters under your helm and under your party is endless, but in summary

    • -The vaccine procurement and rollout has been utterly compromised by public distribution that is riddled with inefficiency and delays. There are numerous media stories that govt officials were SELLING food parcels donated by international agencies. And Mr President you are praying that we the people, do better?
      -Under the helm of the current ANC Government, the price of electricity has risen 5-fold in 5 years. Your people are, literally, freezing to death, in the dozens every night in this cold winter. And Mr President you are praying that we do better?
      -the economic downturn we are suffering has only been exacerbated by Covid. The economic recession was induced by sheer incompetence in the failure of municipal services; the extent of blatant corruption that continues unchecked by govt officials have left the electorate speechless. And Mr President you are praying that we do better?

      • -And yet not one corrupt official appears to have faced his day in court. We hear that Ace Magashule, after being found guilty of embezzling millions is still earning his salary whilst on suspension. We hear that ex-President Zuma has openly defied a court summons, but the government appears powerless in the face of his disdain for the word of law. Mr President, do you not see that it is ONLY with the real threat of jail that your political colleagues will stop stealing? Do you not see you need to make AN EXAMPLE of these thieves masquerading as government officials, while the country burns.
        And Mr President you are praying that we do better?
        So Mr President, this is the simple prayer of your people:
        We are praying you will do less worse.
        The country is on its knees in sheer pain, hunger, and hardship. When you and your government do less badly, only then Mr President, you have a right to ask us, the people, to do better.

        Sincerely one of your people of South Africa

  • The report has someone talking of the good he has done for the community (bringing electricity and running water to them). Would he have done so if it didn’t also supply his homestead?

    • Exactly! And if you’re getting millions in ‘donations’ then what price a few blankets & food parcels? Unfortunately, a lot of people in rural areas do not have access to, or understanding of, the information available that would educate them as to what has happened as regards ‘State Capture’.

  • Why can’t Zuma turn himself in as required by the ConCourt judgement and be brought to the court from prison for his appeal?

  • There is a saying in sales – “the speed of the team is the speed of the leader”. Under Zuma’s presidency the Guptas were enabled to bring the country to the verge of collapse. I’m quite prepared to believe that now all the nefarious dealings are coming to light, even those who ‘benefited’ from the Guptas are shocked at the amounts involved – “we sold ourselves out for millions while the Guptas were getting billions!”. The only hope for SA is an independent judiciary so culprits involved in this massive robbery of a nation can be brought to book. However, an independent judiciary must be supported by law enforcement. C.R. has implored us all to follow the current lock down rules, yet huge gatherings are happening – no social distancing or masks – with no action being taken. The whole area around Nklanda should be quarantined – nobody out for 2 weeks & then a Covid test. No individual arrests so no martyrs & no confrontation. Likely – unfortunately not. Road blocks are around Gauteng stopping people from leaving the region so a small area in the country should be easy. Clear sign that the police (or at least those in charge) are not impartial. There is another ancient saying – “Who watches the watchers”. If the police won’t enforce orders from the Apex court then worrying times indeed.

  • Perhaps , his sentence could be INCREASED! he certainly knows how to work the system. I agree that the legal system needs an overhaul.

  • I thought appeals could only go to a higher court.
    A good answer would be
    “To help you understand that you have nowhere else to go and to stop wasting the courts time the sentence is increased to 24 months. Now go away….to prison. And if you try appealing further the will be no parole”

  • If you keep people uneducated , it is easy to deceive them – An ANC plan?
    If only they knew how much poorer they all are as a direct result of his and his cronies actions. Sad.

  • I am shocked at the levels of ignorance on display here. I finally believe the story that the ANC deliberately keeps rural people ignorant as voting fodder. All these supporters are either wilfully ignorant of the heinous deeds of the Idiot or they are beneficiaries of hos corruption. It feels terrible to wish a plague of Delta Covid on these imbeciles but i certainly have no empathy for them. Hasten to Nkandla big cold front. Let them ,esp Carl, freeze for their champion. And as for Cele and his bangbroek attitude the less said the better.

  • Jacob Zuma said in his application for a recission of the sentence, that if he went to jail, he might catch Covid. There were photos of him marching, maskless, amid a whole lot of his mainly unmasked supporters!Oh the irony!


    ixty-six MaThusini Zuma – no relation – told Daily Maverick that the former president “should be left alone now”.

    “He is even older than I am, but they’re still after him. He is no longer the president. He is no longer in politics. Why are they still following him? Everyone is still after him.

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