SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma has surrendered himself to the authorities to serve a 15-month jail sentence shortly before a midnight Wednesday deadline. During his 2018-19 tenure, Zuma defied a court order to testify at a judicial commission investigating allegations of widespread corruption.
Meanwhile, several human rights groups have welcomed the imprisonment of Zuma. According to the reports, the ex-president is being held at the Estcourt Correctional Center in KwaZulu-Natal province. The Estcourt facility can hold up to 521 prisoners. Amnesty International South Africa also praised Zuma’s imprisonment.
“Due process must be allowed to take its course and the Constitution, and the law upheld. Former President Zuma handing himself over goes a long way in showing that no one is above the law in South Africa,” said Shenilla Mohamed, executive director of Amnesty South Africa.
Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola said, “Zuma was put in the Estcourt prison’s hospital section for assessment and will be treated like any other inmate. Zuma will be in quarantine for 14 days as part of the facility’s COVID-19 precautions.”
“This is not a moment of celebration or triumphalism. It is a moment of restraint or to be human,” Lamola said in front of the Estcourt facility. We want to assure all South Africans that former president Zuma will be afforded dignity throughout his term of incarceration.”
The commission heard testimonies from former Cabinet ministers and top executives of state-owned corporations.
“Zuma will wear standard prison garb and will be eligible for parole after serving a quarter of his sentence,” Lamola added.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation criticized Zuma for failing to abide by the Constitutional Court.
“We are profoundly disturbed by the willingness of Mr. Zuma to court public violence and lawlessness in support of political and personal agendas. … This is extremely dangerous in the context of a country where the rule of law is under siege at so many levels. … It is vital that Mr. Zuma and his supporters.”
Meanwhile, South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress issued a guarded statement saying it “respects” his decision to comply with the law. The statement said that Zuma had made a “truly a brave and hard decision.”