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Yet another D-Day for Jacob Zuma in high court on Tuesday

Pietermaritzburg high court will hear former president’s application for rescission of ConCourt ruling at 11.30am

06 July 2021 - 06:00 By TimesLIVE
Former president Jacob Zuma has said his personal liberty is at stake as a result of his imminent detention without trial.
Former president Jacob Zuma has said his personal liberty is at stake as a result of his imminent detention without trial.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Former president Jacob Zuma’s lawyers will on Tuesday try to prevent his arrest being executed, pending the outcome of his application to the Constitutional Court which is set down for next Monday.

The hearing in the Pietermaritzburg high court will be streamed live on the judiciary's YouTube channel.

Zuma has applied to the court for a stay of execution. The Constitutional Court last week sentenced him to 15 months in jail after it found him guilty of contempt of court. This came after the former president refused to obey the apex court’s judgment that he appear before the state capture inquiry. He has also applied to the ConCourt to rescind its decision to sentence him to time behind bars.

On Monday afternoon the office of the chief justice said the case would be heard virtually on Tuesday at 11.30am.

In his affidavit, Zuma said the Pietermaritzburg high court has powers to enforce or stay the execution of any order of court, even the order of a higher court. He said his personal liberty is at stake as a result of his imminent detention without trial “in breach of my constitutional rights, including the right to life, the right to dignity and the right to freedom”.

Former president Jacob Zuma addressed the media at his homestead in Nkandla on July 4 2021. Zuma said his prison sentence was, in effect, a death sentence as his poor health and the risk of Covid-19 could lead to his death inside a jail cell.

He claimed he had been sentenced without trial and, if imprisoned, would equally have been detained without trial.

Last week, most judges in the ConCourt ruled Zuma had blatantly disobeyed its earlier ruling that he appear before the state capture inquiry. They ruled that because he had refused to participate in its deliberations on the issue of contempt, there was no point in handing down a suspended “coercive” sentence and he must serve 15 months in jail.

The court has since agreed to hear submissions from him, and will do so on July 12.

“Detention without trial was outlawed with the advent of the current constitution, which makes a break with our ugly past. My pending incarceration is imminent in a matter of days or hours. There are no compelling reasons why I should not be afforded the protection of an interdict or stay of incarceration pending the determination of my court applications,” Zuma said.

He said due to his advanced age and “very precarious health conditions”, and in light of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, imprisonment would pose a threat to his life and would effectively be a death sentence.

He said should his applications fail, he would serve his time in prison.

“I have said publicly and now say so under oath.”

In response, the secretary of the state capture inquiry has labelled the court bid as a “continuation of Zuma’s pattern of abuse of court processes”.

“This application for a stay should therefore not be entertained. It is, in its bare form, a strategy on the applicant’s part to avoid the inevitable: serving his prison sentence.”

On his last day of supposed freedom, former president Jacob Zuma spoke to hundreds of his supporters outside his Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal. His son Duduzane Zuma and suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule also fired up the crowd with songs and chants.