Former South African President, Jacob Zuma, got a stay on the 15-month prison sentence he got for contempt of court after the country’s top court agreed to hear his application for a review of its earlier decision.
The former president and his counsel told the court to put off the sentence citing poor legal advice in the first instance, ill health, and financial constraints because his state-sponsored legal fees have been halted.
Mr Zuma sought the reprieve of the Constitutional Court after the court gave him three days – which was due Sunday – to turn himself in to the authorities to serve his jail term.
With the deadline due Sunday, Mr Zuma, who was sentenced for shunning a corruption inquiry repeated invitation in spite of court orders, filed last ditch applications at the Constitutional Court and Pietermaritzburg High Court.
He urged the latter to interdict his arrest pending the outcome of his appeal to the apex court, which he asked to lessen or rescind its earlier judgment.
On Saturday, the Constitutional Court said it will hear Mr Zuma’s recession application on 12 July. His application to the Pietermaritzburg High Court has been set for Tuesday.
In his founding affidavit, Mr Zuma argued that one of the justices – Acting Justice Dhaya Pillay – who sentenced him had conflict of interest having already ruled against him in his ongoing criminal trial.
However, if the apex court rejects his application, he prayed that it “directs that I am given the proper opportunity to present evidence in relation to the question of whether direct imprisonment is an appropriate remedy for the crime of contempt of court.”
Despite the allegations of corruption against him, Mr Zuma still commands huge followings in South Africa. Pictures published by local media showed how his supporters gathered outside his homestead in Nkandla, threatening to physically defend him from the impending arrest.
One of his stooges, Carl Neihaus, also vowed that there would be unrest in the country should the former president be taken to jail, local media, news24.com, reported.
Mr Zuma is to make a public address on Sunday from Nkandla at 18:00 local time, his foundation said in a tweet Friday.
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