PRE-PRISON DIARIES

Zuma tells his supporters he’s a prisoner of conscience and is prepared to fight the ‘injustice’

By Des Erasmus and Lwazi Hlangu 5 July 2021

Former president Jacob Zuma addresses hundreds of supporters from a stage outside his Nkandla homestead on Sunday, 4 July 2021. Addressing his supporters in Zulu, Zuma criticised the Zondo commission and warned that the country would be ungovernable if he were jailed. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Jacob Zuma reiterated late on Sunday night that he was not scared of going to jail for his beliefs, saying he was prepared to be a prisoner of his conscience, as he had done when he was incarcerated on Robben Island during apartheid.

Des Erasmus and Lwazi Hlangu

It was because of his family and comrades that he had decided to fight the “injustice” he was experiencing, former president Jacob Zuma said during a press briefing from his Nkandla home on Sunday night. 

The former president was reading from a prepared statement while flanked by his senior counsel, Dali Mpofu, and daughter Duduzile. 

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Hundreds of Jacob Zuma supporters listen to him speak at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday, 4 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

His eponymous foundation had labelled Zuma’s night-time press briefing an “address to the nation”, wording more commonly reserved for sitting presidents. The briefing, characteristic of Zuma’s time at the helm of the country, started two hours late. 

“I really must be clear, I am not asking for sympathy, but justice,” Zuma read. 

“My age and health condition and any other mitigating circumstances were not considered when the imprisonment was decided. My family and my comrades insisted that these injustices need to be exposed. If it was up to me, I would once again go to jail for my beliefs, as early as today, whether I come out alive or not.”

On Saturday, the Constitutional Court said it would hear Zuma’s eleventh-hour application for rescission of the judgment it had made on Tuesday. That majority judgment found Zuma guilty of contempt for not obeying the apex court’s order that he appear before the Zondo Commission to answer allegations about his involvement in State Capture.  

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Former president Jacob Zuma and advocate Dali Mpofu in Nkandla on Sunday, 4 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Zuma was consequently sentenced to 15 months’ direct imprisonment, to be served at Durban’s Westville Correctional Centre. He is challenging the execution of the warrant of arrest — issued by the highest court in the land — at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday, pending the outcome of the Constitutional Court hearing on 12 July. 

Zuma was given until Sunday to hand himself over, failing which the SA Police Service would have three days in which to arrest him. It is this impending arrest that led to hundreds of supporters flocking to camp outside his Nkandla homestead, in violation of adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown regulations, threatening violence if necessary, to “protect” the former president from arrest. 

Zuma’s application to stay his arrest is being opposed by the Zondo Commission and the Helen Suzman Foundation. The other respondents in the matter, Police Minister Bheki Cele, National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole and President Cyril Ramaphosa, have not opposed.  

duduzane zuma
Duduzane Zuma, former president Jacob Zuma’s son, addresses the crowd gathered outside his father’s Nkandla homestead on Sunday, 4 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

“Even murderers, serial killers, bank robbers and child molesters are granted their fair opportunity to give mitigation after conviction, before sentencing. In my case, a strange procedure was adopted by asking me for mitigation before I was found guilty of any crime,” Zuma continued at the briefing.  

“It cannot be that [there are laws only reserved for Jacob Zuma]. Only Jacob Zuma is told that normal procedures are not applicable, only Jacob Zuma is told that appeal processes are too protracted. Only Jacob Zuma is asked to give mitigation before being found guilty. Only Jacob Zuma’s name is mentioned that the highest court in the land agrees to be a court of first instance in criminal proceedings.” 

Zuma said that being jailed at his age, during the height of a pandemic, was equivalent to a death sentence. “The death sentence was declared unconstitutional in South Africa in 1995 as a result of my own sacrifices and those of millions of South Africans.” He had said much the same in his founding affidavit asking that the Constitutional Court rescind its judgment.  

During the question and answer session, Zuma said that he had not yet received a Covid-19 vaccination. 

He also said that there was something “very wrong” with the South African judiciary, and that he and his family had been more pursued and “harassed” during the democratic dispensation than during apartheid. 

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Former president Jacob Zuma addresses hundreds of supporters from a stage outside his Nkandla homestead on Sunday, 4 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

This was the former president’s second speech of the day. On Sunday afternoon, Zuma made an informal address to the supporters outside his homestead, from a mobile stage. 

During that isiZulu address, he started by telling his followers — who were standing shoulder to shoulder, most without masks — that he was “as healthy as an ox”. 

Visible policing had swelled by Sunday afternoon as the supporters continued to stream in by foot and car. 

The group of Zulu regiments (amabutho) — their presence at Nkandla not sanctioned by the king — had also increased since Saturday. The men were cheered as they entered the homestead. 

While making his informal speech, Zuma was joined by his legal team — including Mpofu — and some of his most vocal supporters, including Tony Yengeni and suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule. 

It gave him “strength” and “new life” to see them, Zuma told the crowd. 

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Police block one of the major roads leading to Nkandla on Sunday, 4 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

“I am happy that you showed me that you won’t let anyone else be messed with like this in South Africa while you are still around. I would like to thank you all very much. Ever since the day of the verdict, until today I have seen all of you in your numbers. [Even though I am] a lowly nothing, you said I won’t be arrested for nothing.” 

“I was starting to think that today I would be tussling with the police here when they arrived to fetch me. But when I saw you, I thought, ‘How would they ever get to me? How would they even get through?’ I would like to thank you for that.” 

Not appearing before the Zondo Commission was a small issue that had been made into a big one, said Zuma.

“My friends, this problem that has angered so many did not need to get anyone angry in the first place. We had a small disagreement at first, that grew into something big. We disagreed and said that the judge [Zondo] who is the chair of the ongoing commission is biased towards me. It is my right by law, that I said I didn’t want to attend the commission with him as chair, but that if he is not chair I would be willing to go answer questions.” 

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Supporters of former president Jacob Zuma, who gathered outside his Nkandla homestead on Sunday, 4 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Zuma walked out of the commission while under summons — placing himself in violation of the Commissions Act — in November last year when Zondo refused to recuse himself. In his application for rescission he said he left the commission because he had to take his medication, and did not return because of miscommunication between his legal team and the commission. 

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who was responsible for the State of Capture report that led to the establishment of the Zondo Commission, said in her report that then-president Zuma should not decide who to appoint as commission chair. Instead, that should be done by the then Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng. Zondo was duly appointed as chair. 

Addressing this, Zuma said: “That lady [Madonsela], who is very attractive, knew that Zuma could create his own commission of inquiry, but she took it upon herself to decide that the judge which would be chair should be a judge appointed by the Chief Justice. There is no law allowing that. The law states that a commission of inquiry is appointed by the president, not half of it, the whole thing.” 

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ANC NEC member Lindiwe Sisulu, who is also human settlements minister, outside the homestead of former president Jacob Zuma in Nkandla on Sunday, 4 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

As stated earlier, Zuma has used his “medical condition” and the threat that Covid-19 poses to his life at his age, as reasons why he should not be imprisoned. But the 79-year-old marched shoulder to shoulder with Zulu regiments on Saturday, without a mask. 

Mzwanele Manyi, the spokesperson for the Jacob Zuma Foundation, would not allow Zuma to address this during Sunday night’s “address to the nation”, when a journalist asked about it. Manyi said Zuma may not have had his mask on because of his “medical condition”, and that any illness he may have was a personal matter. He said the throngs of media covering happenings outside the homestead were also in violation of lockdown regulations. 

Once Zuma had finished his informal address, Magashule spoke to the crowd, who had periodically been chanting his name. 

“We are here to support president Zuma,” he said.  

“Certain people” wanted to “finish the African National Congress”, disband ANC branches, and “disband and remove comrades”, said Magashule, presumably referring to supporters of President Cyril Ramaphosa and Ramaphosa himself, who have been accused by detractors of trying to eradicate disloyal factions. 

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Former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Magashule told the cheering crowd that if members were suspended or structures disbanded, “you must still remain a member of the ANC. You must not go anywhere.

“You must still remain a branch and a region, because you were elected… they must not intimidate you, because the intention is to intimidate you.”

Being a member of the National Executive Committee did not mean one understood the ANC, he said. 

“Yesterday we had a wonderful political discussion with comrade Zuma. He said we must remain disciplined, no one must push us out. If you are amabutho, you remain a member of the ANC. Comrades, please remain resolute. Today you must tell them you are a branch. When they take you out of Parliament, you must tell them you are not going anywhere.” 

Earlier in the day, Zuma’s eldest son, Edward, also told supporters to be disciplined, and not allow themselves to be “provoked by those who want to put Zuma in jail”. 

“Let’s wait for them to provoke us first, then we will retaliate.” 

police nkandla
A police officer outside former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead. Despite Covid-19 protocols being in place, none were legally enforced at the gathering. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

The atmosphere outside Zuma’s residence since Tuesday — when small groups of supporters started moving in and out — was initially lively, but by Sunday afternoon, tension was thick, with small pockets of followers venting their anger when stopped by police. 

“How big is your dick?” one supporter asked a SAPS member trying to question him at a roadblock. Others, obviously agitated, some drunk, called the police officers who had stopped them “crazy”, saying they did not care if they were shot. 

One visibly drunk supporter, who was stopped at a roadblock about a kilometre from Zuma’s homestead, shouted at the police: “We know you were sent by Ramaphosa. You want to kill us like the people of Marikana. This is not Marikana. It’s only the uniform that says you’re police, otherwise you’re just like us. We are not scared of you!”

Another man said the officers had been sent by Police Minister Cele to “kill black people”. The supporters said they wanted to speak to Cele and his “friend” Ramaphosa. 

amaButho
A group of Zulu regiments (amaButho) outside former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday, 4 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

KwaZulu-Natal’s police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, told media at a roadblock earlier in the day that police had, in fact, been monitoring the situation outside the president’s homestead for some time, but had not made themselves visible.  

Mkhwanazi stated bluntly: “Everyone who is part of the gathering at this stage is committing a crime.”

He said intelligence operatives were on the ground, and that police had “lots of cameras” that would be used during investigations to identify people and, presumably, prosecute them for violating lockdown regulations. 

Amid all of this, most of the supporters that Daily Maverick spoke to remained adamant: Zuma would not be going to jail, and, they said; it was Ramaphosa who was behind the “plan” to arrest the former president. The supporters said they were prepared to “fight” and “die” for Zuma. 

Ibutho (Zulu warrior) Baba Mkhanya told Daily Maverick that the Zulu regiments were at Nkandla because they were “shocked” at the courts “failing to do their job”.  

“The charges against Nxamalala [Zuma], to the point where he was sentenced and the sentence itself is what we are against as Zulu warriors. So we thought we should come and protect him against the injustice happening to him.

“Even if he was guilty, I don’t see how they come to a decision to sentence him without him answering for himself. We’re not here to debate whether he is guilty or innocent, we are here because we don’t understand the court procedures used in this particular case. Like, how come Minister Bheki Cele has to arrest Zuma if he doesn’t present himself at the police station? Since when does a minister have arresting powers? That in itself tells us there is political influence here, so we came to defend one of our own.”

Lerato Mokobokheli said she had travelled from Gauteng because, “as comrades of the ANC we love Jacob Zuma, hence we saw the need to come and support him”. 

The group she came with took the chance of driving from Gauteng despite it being prohibited during the adjusted Level 4 lockdown, because Zuma did not deserve to be in jail, she said. 

“He is old, he does not deserve to be in jail, and of course he is a RET [Radical Economic Transformation] representative. We drove from Gauteng to KZN for about six hours, I think. We took that risk because we do believe he does need our support. We want to show him that he is not alone in this journey — we’re with him. That’s why we took the risk to come to this side.”

“Everything” that had happened to Zuma was a “political attack”, she said, because he had decided to fight “White Monopoly Capital”. 

“He saw that the state was still in the hands of white people, so he did certain programmes that ensured that we as black people get empowered. Not all of us might have got to a point where we wanted to be, but he was a step in the right direction. So I believe that it’s all politically motivated because people are biased against Jacob Zuma. Everyone, even the media. The media is biased against Jacob Zuma, hence I believe the court is biased as well.” 

Zuma was a “disciplined comrade”, said Mokobokheli. “I think he might hand himself in when the time comes, but, as we know, he did appeal the judgment, so we will have to wait and see what happens. I don’t want to speculate on what he will do, let’s wait and see.” 

Mokobokheli said she was hoping for a positive outcome to the appeal, but she knew how the justice system worked, and it “is not fair at all”. 

Black First Land First KwaZulu-Natal Chairperson Zizamele Dlamini told Daily Maverick that the organisation would not stop supporting Zuma. 

“None of his cases have been fair. It’s all political. But it’s also another sign that you should never negotiate with the enemy. If we had not negotiated with the enemy in the first place, then this Dutch law would’ve been crushed and replaced with African law to deal with Africans. Now, Cele has to come here and arrest Msholozi [Zuma] while he failed to destroy the Dutch law which is the system that now attacks Msholozi.

“The chances that his appeal will be successful are very slim while we’re under this system. Only South Africans can help him. In fact, the whole of South Africa should be closed.” DM

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All Comments 34

  • The saddest feature of this pathetic charade is the way it portrays South Africa to the world – a lasting image of tribalism, criminals, delinquents, threats, violence and abuse of the law. Why would any other nation support or invest in its future?

    • Sadly, pictures are worth thousands of words 😥
      In the one showing children holding placards; what happened circa 2448?;
      who are these “spies”?; and just like fantasy world that Zuma occupies, the “education” placard is UPSIDE DOWN!

      • I’m puzzled. What did happen in 1448? If it was supposedly Bartolomeu Dias rounding the Cape, then it is wrong. Dias was born in 1450! He doubled, and named it The Cape of Storms (Cabo das Tormentas) in 1488. So that placard that says 573 years ago is also wrong, as you say Peter Bartlett, just like Zuma’s fantasy world.

        The first Europeans to settle in what is now South Africa arrived in 1652, 369 years ago; 164 years after Dias, and 204 years after 1448

  • This fiasco is on worldwide TV for all the wrong reasons. The rainbow nation in tatters. Police actionless when everyone visibly and verbally disobeying laws of the Country. Mini armies protecting Zuma, Zulu army openly disobeying the Zulu Monarch. Zuma getting more confident daily as no action taken against him. Some ANC NEC members openly supporting Zuma. It has festered too much now and the fall out damage will increase the longer this open anarchy is tolerated. Zuma is dictating to the Country.

    • It is now too late to turn things around by constitutional means
      What then?
      There is only one way to sort this out,
      Take a leaf out of the CCP book
      Martial law.
      Round up all of the ringleaders
      Try these ringleaders before a military court (no crooked lawyers to pervert the course of justice)
      Lock them up
      The costs? High
      The benefits? Higher

      • Totally agree. If these wannabe Communists in Pretoria had any balls they would grab this opportunity to get all the rabble one shot. However i wonder if the SANDF would accept the command or SAPS.

  • The silence on this topic by the ANC leaders is deafening…lets not forget how long the ANC defended the indefensible over years by supporting Zuma no matter his crimes.

  • There appears, to me, to be a faction of the ANC that clearly did not, in 1994, sign up for constitutional multi- democracy, the rule of law, property rights etc etc; they want a return to tribalism and feudalism and the mafia style thuggery and protection rackets that go with it.
    Those of us who did sign up for a constitutional democracy, the rule of law etc should recognise this challenge to our choice of the Rainbow nation and the miracle that Mandela and HIS ilk of the ANC brought to our country.
    As we have failed, so far, to deliver multi-party democracy maybe more of us need to join the ANC and its good faction and fight the good fight from the inside – just a thought.

  • All these folk get to vote , thus we are doomed! Stolen land 573 years ago? looks like a fail in Maths and History. ! I get tested for car driving, owning a gun, why no test for potential voters? The dumb leading the dumber.

  • The ANC government has no choice in this matter but to follow the ruling of the Apex court. One last chance given to Zuma then a well thought out plan to arrest him no matter what the consequences. Spell out the process to arrest him and don’t waiver from it.

  • A strong a parallel here with Trump and his militias invasion of the Capitol on Jan 6 . The big man is the victim of the urban elite and the loyal rural tribes must rise up to and protect their leader against the dark forces conspiring against them

  • Zuma’s lies and disinformation are aimed at one thing: to raise the costs of the state acting against him. The main ‘crime’ of the supporter mass is that they believe and trust him, and therefore believe they are in the right. (Shades of Trumpist America.)
    In the process Zuma is undermining the state, and on appeal his sentence should accordingly be increased.

  • So, advocates are breaking the law openly & the Bar Council sits twiddling its thumbs. Dali Mpofu is openly violating the Level 4 Lockdown Regulations. More accurately, he is part of the gang that initiated and encouraged this violation where ever Lockdown rule has been broken. Not only that, violence, threats of killing the police, in short insurrection, have been the order of the day. This poor ignorant masses, who can’t or clearly don’t read independent news & have not the foggiest about the law of the land are being led by the nose by a band of thieving thugs that have been feeding fat off the public purse for too long. That child holding the placard upside down says it all.

  • Could the Press please set out, in paint by numbers for the general public, exactly why he is going to jail and why all he says is disinformation at best.
    Secondly what the consequences, give examples, of a break down of the rule of law.

  • It is unfathomable that this imbecile keeps on getting the media’s attention. He should be banished from all until he is one day released from prison. Then he can again tell his sorry story of how he believes he has never done anything wrong and nobody has ever told/explained what he had done wrong.

  • So Lindiwe must also be guilty of corruption! anyone there supporting JZ is clearly either because they know they going down if CR keeps up the good work with the judiciary, and the rest just represent how stupid these people really are! Africa, for starving Africans!

  • Why is this stuff so difficult? We have a new country with a new constitution and it’s governed by laws.

    So now is a particular individual above those laws?

    Or are there special circumstances that allow for the breaking of the law? Like I was a freedom fighter, I’m an old man, my health is tricky, etc. Because if there are, then everyone over 79 is above the law, as are all sick people at risk of covid.

    The concourt is at risk of making a fool of itself here.

  • 😀 fighting injustice?? Is he sending himself to prison? Please good people of this country, now is the time to wake up and put the thief of your future in jail where he belongs.

  • Think back to Codesa and the right wing attacks at Kempton Park which were tabled as “the last kicks of a dying horse” does anyone else see a similarity here with these so called veterans only capable of rabble rousing.

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