The Constitutional Court has reserved judgment in the commission of inquiry into state capture’s application to have former president Jacob Zuma jailed for contempt of court.
THE Constitutional Court has reserved judgment in the commission of inquiry into state capture’s application to have former president Jacob Zuma jailed for contempt of court.
The apex court heard from the commission’s senior counsel, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, that Zuma should not be fined because he has not opted for this option.
”A fine is out of the question because we have no knowledge of Zuma’s financial position. He has not come to the Constitutional Court to say that he would rather pay the fine,” Ngcukaitobi said.
He argued that the only debate was whether to suspend the imprisonment sought by the commission.
According to Ngcukaitobi, a fine was alluded to by the commission but there has been no response whatsoever from Zuma as he chose not to participate in the proceedings.
Ngcukaitobi warned of a spectacle of Zuma continuing to run rings around the commission and that a clean, effective remedy that fully vindicates the authority of the court would be a custodial sentence.
He said a custodial sentence would send a clear message to the ex-president and anyone who wishes to undermine the authority of the court.
”There is a risk of rendering this court’s judgment hollow. An effective order is a custodial order,” Ngcukaitobi insisted.
Justice Nonkosi Mhlantla asked Ngcukaitobi about his attitude to the apex court issuing a direction that says Zuma must comply with the court’s order within a few weeks from the date of the order failing which imprisonment will then come into effect.
”That order simply does not work. Zuma has known for months there is summons against him, he has told everyone he is not complying,” Ngcukaitobi responded.
He continued: “Another 30 days simply enables the abuse of the Constitutional Court to continue”.
Ngcukaitobi said the two years imprisonment sought by the commission was a serious penalty that took into consideration Zuma’s seniority, political standing and influence in society.
He told the court Zuma has thrown egregious insults to members of the Constitutional Court, Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo as well as the institution of the judiciary.
Ngcukaitobi said Zuma’s insults were akin to a campaign to discredit the judiciary.
Zuma has not complied with the January 2021 Constitutional Court order, forcing him to obey the commission’s summons and adopted a belligerent and defiant tone, according to Ngcukaitobi.
He said the target of Zuma’s belligerence was commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo after he had ruled against former president in his application for the country second most senior judge to recuse himself last year.
Ngcukaitobi described Zuma’s actions as “angry, threatening and provocative tirades”.
”What has transpired is unprecedented,” said Ngcukaitobi, adding that by intentionally defying a court means a person is guilty of contempt of court and Zuma is no different.