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Police minister and SAPS chief back down on arresting J...

South Africa


Police minister and SAPS chief back down on arresting Jacob Zuma, citing ongoing litigation

National Police Commissioner Gen. Khehla Sitole. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla) / Police Minister Bheki Cele. (Photo: Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius)

Police Minister Bheki Cele and SAPS boss Khehla Sitole have decided to effectively flout the Constitutional Court order to take all reasonable and necessary steps to arrest ex-president Jacob Zuma by Wednesday, if he does not hand himself over.

“… (O)ur clients will, out of respect of the unfolding litigation the processes [sic], hold further actions they are expected to take in terms of the honourable court’s orders in abeyance pending the finalisation of the litigation, alternatively, pending any directions the Honourable Acting Chief Justice may possibly issue…” says correspondence dated 5 July from the State Law Adviser in correspondence to Constitutional Court acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, on behalf of the police’s political and accounting bosses.

And with that, Police Minister Bheki Cele and SAPS national commissioner Lieutenant-General Khehla Sitole have handed a win to former president Jacob Zuma. In addition, this move by the police authorities reinforces the ex-president’s long-standing delay by legal strategy and tactics that have served him for well more than a decade in the Arms Deal corruption saga.

It was all about the timing, according to Cele and Sitole, now that Zuma has filed court applications to interdict his arrest, set down for Tuesday in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, and in the Constitutional Court for the rescission of his 15-month contempt of court jail term and conviction,  scheduled for Monday, 12 July.

“The litigation steps taken by Mr Zuma are being processed and will be adjudicated upon by both the High Court and the Constitutional Court within and beyond the time limits our clients are expected to take action to deliver Mr Zuma to a correctional centre to commence serving the sentence,” said the three-page State Attorney letter to Zondo, seen by Daily Maverick.

“It is our clients’ view that the pending litigation has a direct impact on the action which they should take in terms of the court order…”

In other words, Cele and Sitole believe they can’t act until the end of all legal processes — and that could include an application for Zondo to recuse himself from the rescission case.

Former president Jacob Zuma addresses the media from Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday 4 July 2021. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

With references to “unique situation” and “the legal matrix involved”, the State Law Attorney’s correspondence recognised Zuma’s turn to the courts was not an appeal.

“Our clients are fully aware that the litigation steps taken by Mr Zuma cannot be categorised as appeal processes which in usual cases would have an effect of suspending the operation of a court order.”

And still, Cele and Sitole have decided they’d rather wait than implement an order of the highest court in South Africa, the Constitutional Court.

The full impact of Cele and Sitole’s decision to hold in abeyance any steps to effect Zuma’s arrest remains to be seen when the Pietermaritzburg High Court meets. It may just be a brief hearing on Tuesday — to apprise the court of the police authorities’ decision, and to rule what to do with part B, the constitutional challenge to the Criminal Procedure Act.

The decision by Cele and Sitole has come a day after the SAPS was sharply criticised for failing to act against violations of Covid-19 lockdown regulations as Zuma supporters gathered outside his Nkandla homestead. This softly-softly approach stood in stark contrast to the heavy-handed, often deadly police action in community and student protests.

Also on Monday, 5 July, Zuma filed his response to State Capture Commission Secretary Itumeleng Mosala and the Helen Suzman Foundation. Both had opposed Zuma’s application to interdict his arrest. From the papers seen by Daily Maverick, Zuma makes the point that everyone — Cele, Sitole and President Cyril Ramaphosa — has filed motions to abide, or to accept the court outcome.

“There must be very good reasons to do with security issues and the public interest why the ministers, the (SAPS) commissioner and the president have taken a sensible approach…” said Zuma in his court documents.

“As a former president and head of state, I can authoritatively inform this court that such a decision would have been taken after considerations made in the Presidency, the necessary intelligence assessments done by specialists within the justice and security cluster of the state.”

Meanwhile, the State Attorney correspondence on behalf of Cele and Sitole means the next move in this politico-legal chess game is with the Constitutional Court and acting Chief Justice Zondo.

“We trust you find the above in order and our clients will be bound by any direction which the honourable court may issue pursuant to our clients’ intention to hold any steps in abeyance as indicated herein.” DM


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All Comments 55

  • So where does this leave the people of South Africa – well in my view sold right down the river by gutless politicians that are being led around by the nose by the likes of Zuma, Cele, the SAPS commissioner and various other ANCs. Ramaphosa, you’re an utter disgrace and have less courage than a flea and, as for your fellow ANCs in the NEC, they’re as yellow bellied as you are. The ANC is just such a disgrace to this country from one end to the other.

      • I am not surprised either. Was waiting for the political move. Pierre de Vos was clear in his piece in constitutionality speaking that Zuma MUST be arrested. The high court cannot pronounce on the apex sanction. The Apex order stands unless set aside or changed by the Apex Court.
        Politics at play. Calls for a pardon by Al Jama. Please do not hold your breadth, you could be sorely disappointed AND should have learned by now the ANC is rotten to the core.

          • Unfortunately the misguided are not few, they are far, far too many, and cannot see beyond their faces just what damage to the country their stances and/or decisions make.

    • Charles:

      Squirrel is correct staying quiet, this is a matter for Law not politics. The NEC can however clear its throat in terms of consequences of persons breaking the law.

      As to SAPS, for me the responsible thing would be that ConCourt puts out statement making it clear whether the order stands, or not. There would be nothing worse than a violent confrontation involving an uncertainty. If there is certainty and there is violence, so be it. This country cannot continue be held to implied threat of an implied informal force.

    • Fully agree. Exactly what can be expected from the anc. To hell with the laws, courts and constitution – anc is all that matters and staying in control to rule and in the process ruin whatever ‘they’ want. (As long as the taxpayers keep paying)

      • Only African law. that is what the king decides! they still think Zuma is the king so he will prevail. pity there is no Dingaan around to take care of his half broyther!

  • Is this the end of South Africa’s democracy? When the police commissioner (who is responsible for law and order) and a cabinet minister choose to defy the highest court in the land, what recourse is there?

      • Unless President Ramaphosa steps into this unacceptable situation, he will loose what little respect he still has . It flies in the face of all comprehension of the law by the Minister and Commissioner who are paid handsomely to know and do better. Both should be fired with immediate effect. Their total lack of action when Zuma had his illegal Nkandla gathering is even more reason for Ramaphosa to act. Shame on all three of you for giving the middle finger to the South African people!!!

        • This is all political and we well know that those in power and authority – namely the ANC (and EFF by extension) – are treated totally differently, with kid gloves and deference, to the rest of the populace.
          They can do as they like with absolute impunity – disgusting it is!

  • Much as I distrust Cele, I think this article overstates the position when it says that “Cele and Sitole believe they can’t act until the end of all legal processes” and that they have handed a win to Zuma. I suggest that they know they can act, but think it prudent not to make an arrest until later. A delay will probably assist the police logistically in controlling the groups around Nkandla. And if there is a PMB high court finding against Zuma’s appeal today, it will deflate some of the arguments of his supporters. Zuma will indeed have won a small victory if the arrest is postponed until after Wednesday, and Zuma will have check-mated the system if he avoids jail completely — which is entirely possible. But we are not there yet.

    • Agree with your assessment. As absurd & as farcical as this situation has become, given the SAPS’ abysmal record in dealing with demonstrations, even if one Zuma supporter were killed, it would only strengthen the Zuma camp’s hand.

      So unfortunately they’re going to have to standby, meanwhile lawlessness increases & the rule of law goes down the toilet, like everything else in SA.

      • Hiram, my concern is – how long is the long time? Here again we’ve got pawn playing pawn while the prawns are consuming the country. It is just not acceptable to have this stop start type of govt and justice. People need to do their damn jobs without making excuses and Cyril must either be president of the ANC and president of the country but not both. He can’t can’t speak out of both sides of his mouth at the same time.

  • And there I always believed that the law is for the protection of the people. It seems that it applies only to Ordinary People, not Unique People.

    • In his seminal book commenting on the dishonesty of communism George Orwell in Animal Farm summed it up well. All pigs are equal, but some pigs are more equal than others.
      ‘Nuff said. ANC = godless communism = patent amorality.

    • If JZ is not arrested on Wednesday at the latest Cele and Sithole will certainly be in contempt of court. Somebody will need to lay a charge and I think that person should be either a representative of the Con Court or a representative of the Zondo Commission.

  • Given this shameful, pathetic and gutless behaviour, why should ANYONE succumb to being arrested by the police?! Once again CR shows he’s a toothless – and gumless – leader!

  • Now that they have “solved” (wiggled out of) this predicament, surely they cannot lock up a fellow ANC big man. Less he implicates the rest if the ANC elite. Big men never goes down alone.

    Let’s get back to bungling the vaccine roll-out.
    Let’s go after the poor and vulnerable again for not wearing masks.
    Let’s make sure the restaurants stay closed.
    Let’s go after the few remaining tax payers for transporting a bottle of wine.

    Gutless & corrupt comes to mind.

    • Well said Wilhelm. I’ve just got one BUT and that is that we got our second vaccinations yesterday but that is more thanks to the private sector than govt. Well done Discovery and Mediclinic, it was very well handled.

      • And I still can’t find a site close to me, with emphasis suddenly changed to teachers, police, and god know who else. No Discovery, no mediclinic. The closest site….300km away. So Charles, whilst you are happy, I’m not. So stop bragging about things that don’t exist where I live, a mere 300km away from Cape Town

        • I have to put in a word for the vaccine rollout in Makhanda (Grahamstown);both private and public sector has been handled well. And this in a Province with a completely disfunctional health system!

  • Expectations, assessments, opinions and views do not carry a lot of weight. But facts do. The facts dictate that S.A. has attached itself firmly and deeply into the folds of Banana Africa. The country is not on the road or knocking at the gates; we are inside. Welcome to the Banana Republic.

  • So basically Cele and the useless police minister are just too scared to actually do their jobs. Someone please also stand up, they are defying a con court order for sure?

    Ramaphosa is so spineless. His long game is so long that basically the looters will be back before he’s bothered to make a move.

    Embarrassing in every single aspect. Anarchy follows.

  • Can this be read as a veiled threat?: ‘There must be very good reasons to do with security issues and the public interest why the ministers, the (SAPS) commissioner and the president have taken a sensible approach…” said Zuma in his court documents.’

  • Last year the security forces killed people who went against Corona induced restrictions. This year the minister of police and his commissioner are treating a real criminal with kids gloves.

  • Perhaps the Constitutional Court should require Zuma to appear in person for his rescission application. Then, when it fails, they could immediately arrest him and send him off to Westville, without having to deal with the Nkandla gang.

  • I cant understand why I am so sickened when I expected something like this would happen. You just cant prepare yourself for this blatent destruction of the rule of law. Where is the BEE BILLIONAIRE to at least try and explain why the ANC is so silent?

  • Sounds to me like both the minister and commissioner should be charged with the same charge as jz? Is not obeying a court order not what the imbecile has been sentenced to jail for?

  • So it has become quite easy to organise a huge party. Just make sure you invite a couple of pals with guns, get them to fire a few shots and voila! no problem – the cops will evaluate and discuss and whatever else, but no worries, nobody will be arrested?

  • Let’s face it. It would be extremely explosive to have made the arrest. Another Mariana or a Wako in USA? That is the last thing we want.
    There is a more sinister thing happening here which needs attention.
    It looks like a provocation of a first move in the hope of gaining moral high ground by default.

  • “NOUN: Police, body of officers representing the civil authority of government. Police typically are responsible for maintaining public order and safety, enforcing the law, and preventing, detecting, and investigating criminal activities. ”

    South Africa does not have a police force.

  • The way the ANC has trashed South Africa, especially the poor, will be the standard textbook example for students of politics and crime for centuries to come!

    • Speak to the poor and they unanimously support Zuma, their benefactor. Poor means different things to different people. The mindset is a loss of Zuma leaves them poorer. This is Africa logic at work.

  • So Mr Zuma is going to have to be a season ticket holder with all the court appearances before him.
    July 19th is in my opinion the big one. No dilly dallying out of that appearance for Mr Zuma. Hopefully the arrivals counter at OR Tambo will be greeting the Gupta entourage with a “enjoy your stay” before too long and my goodness will the Gupta canaries sing once caged!!

  • The best news ever is that I believe Chicken Man lives – aka Cyril R.

    “In turn earnest, insouciant, self-effacing, naive, bumbling, and screamingly funny, Chickenman [is] neither super-hero nor anti-hero. He simply [is] a guy with a good heart, a trusting spirit, and the best of intentions who happen[s] to believe it [is] possible to overcome evil.

    That he [thinks] donning a chicken suit and flapping his arms [is] the best way to do it may seem a bit strange until you consider the perspective of his girlfriend, Miss Sayde, who often said, ‘If you can get past the clucking and the feathers flying around, he’s actually doing some good.’ ” Shoreacres ‘Benton Harbor : A Man For Our Times’

    He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!

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