Rights groups hail jailing of South Africa’s ex-leader Zuma

Jul 8, 2021, 6:42 AM | Updated: Jul 9, 2021, 3:46 am
The Estcourt Correctional Centre prison in the KwaZulu Natal province Thursday July, 8, 2021 where ...

The Estcourt Correctional Centre prison in the KwaZulu Natal province Thursday July, 8, 2021 where former South African President Jacob Zuma is to serve a fifteen month prison sentence for contempt of court. The 79-year-old Zuma was convicted of contempt for defying a court order to testify at a judicial commission investigating allegations of corruption during his presidency from 2009 to 2018. (AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

NKANDLA, South Africa (AP) — Human rights groups welcomed the imprisonment Thursday of former South African President Jacob Zuma, who began serving a 15-month sentence for defying a court order to testify at a judicial commission investigating allegations of widespread corruption during his 2009-18 tenure.

Zuma, 79, surrendered to authorities shortly before a midnight Wednesday deadline and is being held at the Estcourt Correctional Center in KwaZulu-Natal province, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from his rural home in Nkandla.

He was put in the Estcourt prison’s hospital section for assessment and will be treated like any other inmate, Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola said. 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 that can hold 521 prisoners. “We want to assure all South Africans that former president Zuma will be afforded dignity throughout his term of incarceration.”

The commission heard damning testimony from former Cabinet ministers and top executives of state-owned corporations that Zuma allowed members of the wealthy Gupta family to influence his Cabinet appointments and the awarding of lucrative state contracts.

Zuma will wear standard prison garb and will be eligible for parole after serving a quarter of his sentence, Lamola said. The prison will comply with rulings coming from the two court applications that Zuma’s lawyers have filed against his imprisonment, the minister said.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said it was pleased Zuma is in custody but criticized him for failing “to abide by the deadline set by the Constitutional Court, thus continuing a pattern of disregard for the rule of law and for our constitutional democracy.”

The foundation said it is “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 contexts of a country where the rule of law is under siege at so many levels. … It is vital that Mr. Zuma and his supporters be held accountable every step of the way.”

Amnesty International South Africa also praised Zuma’s surrender and 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.

“Respect for the rule of law is essential for the promotion and protection of human rights and must be upheld without fear or favor,” Mohamed said in a statement. “We call on all parties involved to show restraint and remain calm.”

South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, which Zuma once headed, issued a guarded statement saying it “respects” his decision to comply with the law. The statement said he had made a “truly a brave and hard decision.”

The ANC reaffirmed its “unequivocal commitment to and defense of the Constitution, … the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary,” in the tweeted statement Thursday. It urged its members to “remain calm.”

Initial reaction was muted in Nkandla, where Zuma enjoys his strongest support. Hundreds of Zuma supporters had gathered there over the weekend, vowing to fight any efforts to arrest him, but they had left by Monday.

On Wednesday, Zuma turned himself over to the VIP security guards who surround him as a former president. The guards, all police officers, sped him in a convoy to the prison.


Meldrum reported from Johannesburg.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Then-Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer speaks during an event at the Library of Congress ...
Associated Press

Breyer, Gorsuch join to promote education about Constitution

WASHINGTON (AP) — Recently retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has become the honorary co-chairman of a nonpartisan group devoted to education about the Constitution, joining Justice Neil Gorsuch at a time of intense political polarization and rising skepticism about the court’s independence. The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia said Thursday that Breyer and Gorsuch, […]
6 hours ago
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks via video-link at a donor conference for Ukraine hel...
Associated Press

Ukraine wants donors to give more money to ‘stop Russia’

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Western nations Thursday to provide more money to help Ukraine’s military keep fighting nearly 5½ months after Russia invaded its neighbor. “The sooner we stop Russia, the sooner we can feel safe,” Zelenskyy said while addressing defense leaders at a Denmark conference aimed at strengthening […]
6 hours ago
FILE- Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivers his first state of the nation address in Q...
Associated Press

Philippine leader threatens to fire officials in sugar mess

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president has threatened to fire top agricultural officials if an investigation shows they improperly announced a decision to import sugar amid a shortage without his approval, his press secretary said Thursday. It’s the stiffest punitive step newly elected President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. could take against officials over an apparent […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Don’t bank on your business to fund your retirement

Retirement can loom like a dark cloud for small-business owners. Many invest blood, sweat and tears — and every penny — into building their business but never set cash aside for the future. A huge number of entrepreneurs have reported putting aside no retirement savings at all. For some, selling the business is their only […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Indiana officer critically wounded in traffic stop shooting

RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) — An eastern Indiana police officer was critically wounded and a man was injured in a shootout following a traffic stop and search for possible narcotics, authorities said. Richmond Police Department Officer Seara Burton responded to a call about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday from other officers to assist with the stop involving a […]
6 hours ago
Follow @ktar923...
Sponsored Content by Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.

Sponsored Articles

Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Rights groups hail jailing of South Africa’s ex-leader Zuma