Former President Jacob Zuma on Sunday said the move by the Constitutional Court essentially sentenced him without a trail, and sending him to jail was tantamount to a death sentence.
Zuma gave a public address live from his Nkandla home on Sunday night on matters pertaining to his jail sentence. A majority ruling by the Constitutional Court ruled he was in contempt of court for not attending the commission and sentenced him to 15 months behind bars.
“The death sentence was declared unconstitutional in South Africa in 1995. As a result of my sacrificed and those of millions of South Africans,” he said. “Sending me to jail during the height of a pandemic at my age is the same as sentencing me to death,” he said.
In response to a question about why he himself was not wearing a mask when he met supporters earlier in the day nor during the press address, his spokesperson Mzwandile Manyi intervened.
“I think it’s important for you to do a bit of research first and understand that sometimes when you have a medical condition, there’s an issue between you and the mask. So you put it on, you pull it off. Doctors regulate that kind of a thing. So the fact that the president is not wearing a mask might very well be a medical condition which is a confidential condition, which he can’t disclose here,” Manyi said, adding that the media was “pointing fingers” while also not sticking to regulations by being present.
Earlier in the day, Zuma also addressed his supporters who gathered outside his house, telling them that he was not aware of any transgressions by him despite the ruling.
He also accused Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo of being biased against him.
“I made a submission to Judge Zondo, pointing out exact details to support my contention that he is not neutral.
He also made his own submission to disprove my contention and subsequently ruled that his own submission is victorious. This then meant that I was now forced to appear before somebody I have accused of bias and conflict of interest,” Zuma said.
He stated that “had Judge Zondo simply recused himself and allowed my submission to be made to somebody neutral, the people of South Africa would have heard my version as regards all the unsubstantiated allegations against me”.
“Had Judge Zondo simply recused himself and allowed my submission to be made to somebody neutral, the people of South Africa would have heard my version as regards all the unsubstantiated allegations against me,” he said.
During his address, he also likened the COVID-19 lockdown to what happened during apartheid. Lockdowns in line with alert levels of the coronavirus pandemic have been vital to managing the spread of the deadly virus. Since it’s beginning, South Africa has lost over 60,000 people to the illness.
“We have a level four lockdown, with all hallmarks of a state of emergency, and the curfews of the 1980s. The only difference is that we only use different levels, like contempt of court instead of detention without trial. But the substance is exactly the same. Being jailed without a trial is no different to the apartheid detention without trial.”
Meanwhile, Zuma’s legal team is expected to argue in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday that his sentence must be stayed pending the outcome of his rescission application.