Former South African president Zuma begins prison sentence

Despite days of protests by his supporters, South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma began a court-ordered prison sentence in the early hours of Thursday.

The 79-year-old had long tried to resist, and veterans’ associations supporting him also threatened to destabilize the country if he was arrested. Dozens of them had posted themselves as guards outside his country residence, Nkandla.

Zuma is now in the EstCourt Correctional Centre in KwaZulu-Natal, a province on the country’s east coast, according to police.

He had decided to surrender to the police, the Zuma Foundation announced. The politician thus escaped arrest by the police. Her father was in a good mood and laughed on the way to prison, Zuma’s daughter Dudu Zuma-Sambudla wrote on Twitter.

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison by the Constitutional Court last week for disobeying a court summons. He has to answer to a commission of inquiry on various corruption charges during his 2009-18 term in office, but had failed to comply with a court summons.

On several occasions, Zuma had questioned the legitimacy of the commission and stressed that he would rather go to jail than appear there.

It is the first time ever that a former president of the country has been sentenced to prison.

The politician’s lawyers had filed an urgent motion in the evening to postpone the start of his imprisonment.

The police had arrived with numerous vehicles in front of Zuma’s country residence Nkandla in eastern South Africa in front of the running cameras of a large media contingent.

After several rounds of negotiations with his lawyers, a convoy of cars carrying Zuma finally left the estate.

Next Monday, the Constitutional Court is due to consider an application by Zuma for the cancellation of his prison sentence.

Through his lawyers, the 79-year-old had told the court that the prison sentence would endanger his life in view of his failing health. He was therefore entitled to a re-examination of his case, the news channel News24 quoted from the lawyer’s letter.

Source: GNA

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