South Africa’s top court on Friday rejected former president Jacob Zuma’s plea to rescind his sentence of 15 months in jail for contempt of court, reported Africa News.
Zuma handed himself over to the police in July after the Constitutional Court found him in contempt of court for refusing the court’s order to appear before an inquiry commission investigating corruption allegations during his nine years of the presidential term from 2009 to 2018. But he has since been granted medical parole for medical treatment.
His imprisonment led to violent protests and looting in which at least 354 people lost their lives and more than R20 billion (USD 1.36 billion) in property was destroyed.
He faces 16 charges of fraud, corruption, and racketeering related to the 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats, and military gear from five European arms companies.
Zuma pleaded not guilty. He claims that he is being made a victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt. He alleged that Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the chairman of the inquiry commission, was biased against him.
South Africa’s opposition parties questioned his release saying that proper procedure wasn’t followed. They claimed that the parole was granted by a senior official of the Department of Correctional Services who was appointed by Zuma during his presidential tenure and not by the Parole Board.
On Friday, the Constitutional Court Judge Sisi Khampepe dismissed the 79-year-old Zuma’s application of rescission. Zuma argued that his sentence was improper because, among other things, he had been jailed without trial.
Khampepe said South Africa’s former president had willfully refused to participate in litigation and then reopened the case when it suited him. She said it was a majority decision of 7-2 judges to uphold Zuma’s sentence. He continues to remain in hospital as details of his medical condition remain secret.