The South African Supreme Court has agreed to hear the challenge of former President Jacob Zuma against his 15-month sentence on charges of contempt.
South Africa’s constitutional court has agreed to hear the challenge of former President Jacob Zuma to rescind an order sentencing him to prison for 15 months on charges of contempt.
The constitutional court sentenced Zuma to 15 months in prison Tuesday for failing to appear at the corruption investigation led by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in February.
The former president was given until the end of Sunday to surrender, after which police would be forced to arrest him. But the court agreed Saturday to hear his request on July 12.
Al Jazeera correspondent Fahmida Miller, reported from Nkandla, South Africa, said that instead of “going through tomorrow or being arrested in the coming days … Jacob Zuma will return or at least present for the first time at the Constitutional Court to defend itself ”.
Miller said that before the sentencing, the chief had several opportunities to express his concerns.
“He ignored it [the opportunities]Miller said. “And now it seems only a day before he is supposed to resign that he is willing to talk to the Constitutional Court,” he added.
Zuma called the sentence an “exemplary political statement of punishment.” He claimed that he is the victim of a political witch hunt and that Zondo is prejudicial against him.
In his request to overturn the decision submitted Friday, Zuma said going to prison “would put him at the highest risk of death” from the pandemic because he is nearly 80 years old and has a medical condition.
Thousands of his supporters, mainly members of the Umkhonto Wesizwe military wing of the African National Congress, have been living outside his home in Kwa-Zulu Natal province for weeks.
On Saturday, hundreds of them marched alongside Zuma in his hometown of Nkandla.
“They could give Zuma 15 months … or 100 months. He won’t serve a day or a minute of this,” his son Edward Zuma told Reuters news agency at the meeting. “They were going to kill me before they put their hands on him.”
Zuma, who has not spoken to his supporters but is scheduled to address them on Sunday, wore a black and gold tropical jersey as he walked through the crowd, but without a mask. It was guarded by men dressed as traditional warriors of their Zulu nation, who wore leopard skins and held spears with oval shields in ox leather.
Tension erupted this week when members of the Umkhonto Wesizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) threatened that the country would be destabilized if the former leader was arrested, promising to form a human shield around Zuma.
Fearing a clash, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said it had postponed a scheduled meeting of its first National Executive Committee this weekend.
Numerous convoys of local provincial leaders, including ANC secretary in KwaZulu Natal Mdumiseni Ntuli and provincial prime minister Sihle Zikalala were spotted at the house.
Carl Niehaus, Zuma’s ally, told AFP that the former president was at his home to meet spiritual leaders on Saturday.