South Africa

PRISON DIARIES

Jacob Zuma speeds out of Nkandla and into custody at Estcourt Correctional Centre

(Photo: Leila Dougan)

Minutes before midnight, Jacob Zuma’s foundation announced: ‘Dear South Africans and the World. Please be advised that President Zuma has decided to comply with the incarceration order.’

Jacob Zuma’s motorcade sped out of his Nkandla homestead at about 11.20pm on Wednesday, as he ostensibly rushed to hand himself over to the Correctional Services in order to avoid arrest. 

It is understood that the president being transported by his state-sponsored VIP protection was agreed upon by police leadership at a provincial and national level. 

Minutes before midnight, Zuma’s foundation announced: “Dear South Africans and the World. Please be advised that President Zuma has decided to comply with the incarceration order. He is on his way to hand himself into a Correctional Services Facility in KZN. A full statement will be issued in due course.”

Fifteen minutes later, the spokesperson for the police ministry, Lirandzu Themba, tweeted that Zuma was in custody, in compliance with the order of the Constitutional Court. 

The motorcade arrived at the recently refurbished “state-of-the-art” Estcourt Correctional Centre at about 1.20am. At 2am, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) issued a statement confirming Zuma had been admitted.  

“Mr Zuma will be taken through all the admission processes as per DCS regulations. Other relevant prescripts pertaining to admitting and orientating newly incarcerated persons will also be followed and executed. 

“Details about the appropriate classification, prerogatives and incarceration conditions can only be determined at the completion of the assessment process to be undertaken by relevant authorities within the employ of DCS. 

“Keeping inmates in safe and secure custody remains cardinal to Correctional Services and we remain committed to this cause.”

The possibility of an arrest had left many South Africans teetering on the edge of their seats for the past eight days. On Tuesday last week, the apex court found the 79-year-old in contempt of its order earlier in the year that he appears before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. He was subsequently sentenced to 15 months of direct imprisonment.

He was given until Sunday to hand himself over, failing which the minister of police and the national commissioner of police were ordered to ensure his arrest by midnight on Wednesday. 

On Saturday, the Constitutional Court agreed to hear Zuma’s application for rescission, with a date set down for Monday, 12 July. 

On Tuesday, an urgent application that Zuma brought before the Pietermaritzburg High Court for a stay of the order for arrest and committal pending Monday’s hearing was heard, but judgment was reserved until Friday by Judge Jerome Mnguni, who expressed disquiet at a lower court being asked to stay an order from the apex court. 

Zuma maintains that his age, “health condition” and the Covid-19 pandemic would translate into a “death sentence” should he be imprisoned. 

The special units and myriad officers that had been assembling in the north of KwaZulu-Natal did not make a show at the homestead on Wednesday, mitigating the possibility of violence that many of Zuma’s supporters, including his son Edward, had been repeatedly threatening should he be arrested. 

Instead, confusion was the order of the evening, as exhausted media tried to offer a blow-by-blow account sans the input of authorities, who remained tight-lipped to the point of vexation.

A thoroughly sozzled Edward Zuma and about 40 diehard supporters – an embarrassment when compared to the multitudes that gathered on Saturday and Sunday – took it upon themselves to guard and then block with vehicles the main gate leading into the Zuma homestead at about 9.30pm, well into curfew. Gripping a smoothly carved stick, Edward Zuma led the squad in toyi-toying and singing Struggle songs.

Scenes outside Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla  homestead late on Wednesday evening, 8 July, 2021. Photos: Leila Dougan

Prior to this, caressing to the same stick, Edward Zuma told journalists that he was “flabbergasted at our judiciary. It’s a mess.”

Asked how he felt about the clock ticking down to his father’s arrest, Edward responded that the clock should “unclick itself”. 

The former president’s son, Edward Zuma, speaks to the media. (Photo: Leila Dougan)
Former president Jacob Zuma’s son, Edward, outside the Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday, 7 July 2020. Edward said repeatedly that he was prepared to die for his father. (Photo: Leila Dougan)
A Daymed ambulance arrives at the homestead of former president Jacob Zuma in Nkandla. (Photo: Leila Dougan)
A police motorcade 5km from former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead half an hour after he was taken to the Estcourt Correctional Centre. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

At 10.30pm, a Pietermaritzburg-based private ambulance arrived outside the homestead, with three paramedic vehicles alongside. Edward told the driver to park on the side of the road. He informed journalists that if there were a life-threatening situation inside his father’s home that necessitated an ambulance, he would have known about it. Twenty minutes later, he told the supporters that the ambulance had to be allowed into the property. Apparently, there was “an old woman” who needed help. 

Once Zuma’s convoy had left the homestead, Edward denied that his father had left with it. Earlier, he would not confirm that the former president was even in the province.  

“We had to give access to the four ministers who spent hours here so they could leave,” he lied. 

A motorcade leaves former president Jacob Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla just after 11pm on 7 July 2021. Leading up to the midnight deadline, Zuma’s lawyers have been trying to keep him from serving a 15-month jail sentence handed down by the Constitutional Court. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Adding to the confusion of the evening was a letter written to the Constitutional Court by Zuma’s legal team, incorrectly reported by some media to be an application, and the notion that the justices had urgently gathered to discuss it. 

“You have issued directions that my client’s application for rescission of judgment be heard on Monday, 12 July 2021. However, the directions do not indicate the status of the committal orders… pending the outcome of the rescission application,” the letter stated.

“We lodged a high court application to seek a suspension order of the Constitutional Court committal orders. The presiding Justice Mnguni indicated that he would deliver judgment on Friday, 9 July, but no holding position was ordered pending the delivery of his judgment.

“The SAPS has indicated that it will be executing the orders of the Constitutional Court tonight by midnight despite the pending judgment on whether the execution of the committal orders should be suspended.

“We write to request that you issue a directive in terms of which the execution of the committal orders of the Constitution is suspended pending the outcome of the judgment on Friday, 9 July, alternatively pending the outcome of the judgment to be heard by the Constitutional Court on Monday, 12 July.

“There is prejudice to the life of our client in the event of the judgment of the High Court ordering a suspension of the committal orders, alternatively the Constitutional Court rescinding the orders.

“We understand that the Constitutional Court may direct the suspension of its orders, which if granted would be binding on the High Court, to prevent our client from being arrested prior to all legal processes being finalised. We await your urgent response.”

The letter was not responded to. 

A leader of the so-called Radical Economic Transformation forces in KwaZulu-Natal told Daily Maverick that while no “formal” plans to protest had been put in place, there would be “spontaneous” groupings in the province on Thursday to object to the arrest. 

“Jacob Zuma is a man who is very loved. We don’t have to organise protests for him. People will protest because they love him.” DM

Words: Desiree Erasmus. Visuals: Leila Dougan

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  • The rule of law has been applied. The only disappointment is that young Edward and his comrades did not “lay down their lives” as they promised all South Africans they would do. So much for their idle threats and bluster!

  • Wanted: I need a picture of Zuma in prison uniform in a cel please! Bonus points if he is grasping the bars. Willing to trade for very valuable goodies.

  • One man armed with a stick. It has come to this. Zuma, the game is up. Now the lawyers must be rubbing there hands, note of caution – insist on cash up front !

  • Once again the former president gives the defiant middle finger as he breaks curfew regulations to avoid arrest by police. This must be considered in any parole assessment.

  • Why was Edward and his circus not arrested and charged for attempting to obstruct justice, being drunk in public and breaking laws pertaining to the Disaster Management Act? I suppose the Zuma’s are a still a law unto themselves.

  • I won’t believe anything about the “arrest” or “handover” of Zuma until I see him in orange. What a ridiculous mess…

  • What a joke! The “finest legal minds in SA” on display there in that absurd letter to Zondo. The very foundation of our fragile and young constitutional democracy is the real victim here. Zuma is still clearly in contempt of the CC’s unambiguous order and so are Cele and Sitole. They must pay the price for the rule of law to be upheld and for respect of our justice system to be maintained. It ain’t over by a long shot.

    • The anc script and screen play writers have been hard at work on this disgusting spectacle.
      Further episodes with varied scenarios are all ready for publication
      The whole series is like a Grade B movie
      How can RSA expect to be take seriously on the international stage with this low level of performance

  • I will believe that jz is ‘in prison’ when he next appears at one of his criminal hearings in shackles and orange overall. Until then …. well, he might have arrived at the prison, but is he actually an incarcerated prisoner?

    • Yes, in the newly “refurbished, state of the art” quarters prepared for him!!! He was only waiting for the renovations to be completed to ensure 5-star surroundings before handing himself over.

  • Let us rejoice in the streets. JZ away and next the promised prosecutions of illegal gathering, bearing arms, rogue Zulu King’s army, ANC branches supplying arms to the demonstrators. What am I smoking to believe this will happen next.

  • So he remained defiant to the end. I would love to be privy to the behind the scenes discussions. But it wouldn’t surprise me if a special luxury cell has been reserved for him and in a weeks time he will apply for medical parole

    • Peter, I do not mind , in fact I am glad, if Jacob Zuma is kindly treated in prison. What I am celebrating this morning is that the rule of law is being carefully and judiciously re-established after twenty years of gradual erosion. Also that the ANC under Cyril Ramaphosa’s leadership, is gradually taking back reason, remembering at least some idealism, and steadily forcing back the tidal wave of corruption which had been ruling unchallenged. It will be a long and difficult journey back from banana republic to efficiently-run modern democracy, but we have started the journey. Phambili South Africa, phambili! Long live democracy, long live! Halalaa Judge Sisi Khampepe! This is what we struggled for all those years.

      • Exactly. This is a key point in a process of many stages through which accountability can be re-established, and increasingly a stop can be put to abuse of public funds. The process has been on a knife-edge recently, but this incarceration is a key turning point.

      • Well said Raymond! We South Africans are too eager to see the glass half empty. Instead, we should be celebrating these very symbolic victories and remembering that, although far from perfect, we have moved a long way from where we were a few years ago. Ace gone into the political wilderness, Zuma imprisoned, Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma denied bail, large-scale private power production coming, majority of SAA sold, Zweli Mkhize suspended for corruption (yes, I know, on full pay), Shivambu (and effectively the EFF) forced to pay back VBS money. If that is not a structural shift in the political tide, then what is? We have achieved in South Africa what the US has failed to – convicted and jailed our corrupt and inept ex-president. How many developed countries can claim that? It could so easily have gone the other way, the low road scenario. As I was reminded this morning, the grass is not greener on the other side, it is greener where you water it…

      • Well said Raymond. As many of the replies mention, this is a watershed moment and there seems to be a slow but continuous shift back to normality/sanity.

        A good day for South Africa.

      • Raymond,

        I am sure most women and some men quietly hope that he receives some of the treatment in prison that he actually deserves. He is a rapist, a thief, a racketeer and by several versions arranged more internal hits in the struggle days than harm against the apartheid military.

        Our journey back up the mountain will not start with Zuma in a comfy wing in prison for a few months. It will start when the ANC fundamentally disbands and decent people regroup, leaving behind the communist principles (hell, not even China or Russia still believe in that only Cuba and Venezuela), stop calling each other comrade, stop appointing cadres and instead appoint competent people of any political party.

        The ANC forgot that Party does not equal government.

        Anyway – it is a happy day!

      • Raymond, I feel the same. The justice system and the court demonstrated that the rule of law is still respected and applied. Justice must not just be done it must be seen to be done.

      • Thanks, Raymond, and kudos to President Ramaphosa, for seeing this through. After the abuse he has received in the DM comments it is fitting to acknowledge he has come through this politically stronger – and that is good for all of us.

  • Nkandla to Estcourt is around 400 km. They did that in two hours , in the dark? Two hundred km an hour, average? I dont believe that, unless there was a helicopter involved , paid for by the taxpayer?

  • Your report of the refurbished “state of the art” Estcourt correctional facility does not indicate whether it is equipped with a firepool for JZ’s exclusive use ? As someone has suggested, it is just a matter of time before a ‘brilliant’ (like his legal team!) medical officer pronounces the need for him to be committed to a golf course for health reasons (not unlike Shaik).

  • I am confused about one thing. According to himself, everyone loves JZ. So why did he need a tax payer sponsored motorcade and special protection teams to escort him to Escourt? Why didn’t he just call an Uber like the rest of us peasants would have had to have done……..

    • my question too…..
      Edward should remember that the judicial system was messed by his father and his famous sheep, Shaun.

  • Having seen all the interviews and statements by the clueless spokesman of the Jacob Zuma Foundation, I did a search to find out what it does.
    The Facebook page has not been updated since 2015, and a search for the website brings up an error message.
    What exactly is the purpose of this NPO?

  • I feel sadness for the large family who have had to see their father humiliate himself by his misguided and arrogant conduct. I can’t imagine none of them ever pleaded with him to stop his foolishness.
    So here we are: an old man sitting behind bars, hopefully contemplating some form of apology to his family, his party and the nation.

  • wondering if there was an ANC ultimatum to him that if he did not surrender he would be expelled or at least suspended.

  • Surprised to see Edward Zuma survived his father’s incarceration. Didn’t he claim, very publicly, that he was prepared to die to prevent his “recalcitrant litigant” father from imprisonment? A ” sozzled” Edward apparently did not imbibe enough “dutch courage ” or alternatively too much liquor to fight off the final arrest and incarceration. Oh, and why were those people gathering at the gate of Inkandla not arrested for breaking curfew, not wearing masks, and in Edward Zuma’s case, being under the influence of alcohol? Police need to be seen doing their job without fear or favour.

  • Q worth looking at : already Dept Corrections saying Zuma could be considered for parol after quarter server.

    The ConCourt sentenced 15 months without specifying anything about parole.

    That means Section 73(6)(a) of Correctional Services Act applies and that only caters for half served, not quarter.

    The parole board must also consider whether the criminal has re-offended and I think remorse features. Shall we hold our breath for Zuma apologizes for contempt of court and does not repeat past attacks on Judiciary???

  • Find the Zuma foundation statement so laughable. “Dear South Africans and the World “
    The Word don’t care about a has been!!!!