South Africa’s Constitutional Court on Thursday reserved its judgment in a contempt of court case against former President Jacob Zuma.
An application to the court was filed by a judicial commission probing corruption in the country, arguing that Zuma 78, had “deliberately” refused to appear before it on several occasions despite a court order demanding him to do so.
“On the 28th of January, the Constitutional Court granted an order directing Mr. Zuma to obey summons issued by the commission, and to attend and give evidence before the commission,’’ Advocate Tembeka Nicholas Ngcukaitobi, said on behalf of the commission during the hearing conducted virtually due to the pandemic.
“Any contempt of court, on an ongoing matter must be dealt with urgently because it is a real threat to the judiciary,” he argued, and asked the Constitutional Court to convict him.
The constitutional court asked the commission’s lawyer if they would prefer the imposition of fine on Zuma over a prison sentence, Ngcukaitobi said such a punishment will make the court look like a money exchange.
The court also asked the lawyer if they had lost hope that the former president would ever appear at the commission.
The State Capture Commission was established in 2018, shortly before Zuma stepped down as the head of state.
Zuma had resigned from office amid pressure from his own ruling African National Congress party over multiple accusations of corruption.
The former president accused the head of the State Capture Commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo of being biased and asked him to recuse himself. But the judge declined, saying he was doing his job without bias.