The Jerusalem Post

S. Africa’s Zuma asks court to cancel 15-month jail sentence


JOHANNESBU­RG (Reuters) – South Africa’s ex-leader Jacob Zuma on Friday asked the country’s top court to annul his 15-month jail sentence for failing to appear at a corruption inquiry, saying it was excessive, unjust and might kill him if he catches COVID-19 in prison.

The constituti­onal court sentenced Zuma to 15 months in jail on Tuesday for failing to appear at the corruption inquiry led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in February.

He was given five days to appear before police, but it was unclear whether he will go willingly. His supporters have gathered in his home town of Nkandla to resist his arrest.

In an affidavit submitted on Friday, Zuma said going to jail would put him at great risk.

“I am a 79-year-old man who suffers from a medical condition that requires constant and intense therapy,” he said, not elaboratin­g. “My state of health (is among) many reasons I should not be imprisoned... in the context of the a deadly pandemic [in] which people in my circumstan­ces are... at the highest risk of death.”

Since being ousted by his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, in 2018, Zuma has faced several legal maneuvers aimed at bringing him to justice on allegation­s of grand corruption during and before his time as president.

These include Zondo’s inquiry and a separate court case relating to a $2 billion arms deal in 1999, when Zuma was deputy president.

Zuma also called the sentence a “political statement of exemplary punishment.” He has maintained all along that he is the victim of a political witch hunt, and that Zondo is biased against him.

The Zondo Commission is examining allegation­s of high-level graft involving three Indian-born businessme­n, the brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta, during Zuma’s period in power from 2009 to 2018. Allegation­s against Zuma include that he allowed the Gupta brothers to plunder state resources and influence policy. He and all three Gupta brothers have denied wrongdoing.

“The constituti­onal court must reconsider its orders that completely strip me of so many of my guaranteed constituti­onal rights,” he said.

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