The Constitutional Court on Friday dismissed former president Jacob Zuma’s application to have his 15-month prison sentence rescinded.
Zuma filed the application in July, in a bid to reverse the Concourt’s judgment that found him guilty of contempt of court, after he ignored its order to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture chaired by Deputy Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo.
In its majority judgment delivered by Justice Sisi Khampepe, the court ruled that Zuma did not meet the requirements of a rescission and failed to provide reasonable explanation for defying the court.
“The majority of the Constitutional Court judgment finds that Mr Zuma has not met the statutory requirements of a rescission. Rule 42 stipulates that a court may rescind or vary an order or judgment erroneously sought, or erroneously granted in the absence of any party affected by that. It is tried that an applicant who invokes this rule must show that both grounds exist.
"Far from being persuaded by Mr Zuma’s submissions, the majority finds although Mr Zuma’s physical absence cannot be disputed, the words granted in the absence of any party affected, as they appear in Rule 42, exist to protect litigants whose presence was precluded, not those whose absence was elected. Mr Zuma was given notice of the contempt of court proceedings launched against him. He knew of the relieve the Commission sought, despite this he elected not to participate,” said Justice Khampepe.
Another dissenting judgment by two Justices found that Zuma’s imprisonment must be dismissed as correct procedures were not followed and that it is not consistent with the country's Constitution.
The court also ordered that the former president pay the costs of the Commission, Zondo and of two Counsels.
Meanwhile, the JG Zuma Foundation, expressed disappointment with the judgment.
“The rights of His Excellency President Zuma continue to be waived and ignored. The court has taken upon itself to prioritise its own dignity over the dignity of a human being. This is what this judgment was really about.
"What this judgment has actually done, it will actually undermine the investor confidence. Because what it means is that if you’re going to have a judgment that is going to say Section 39 (paragraph 1) of the Constitution which obliges government to take into consideration international law, but then you have judgment saying it is not obliged, it means that people doing business with South Africa are not going to have confidence in our rule of law. This judgment is very bad for the country, justice and rule of law,” explained the Foundation’s spokesperson, Mzwanele Manyi.
Zuma was recently released from prison on medical parole, however, the Democratic Alliance, AfriForum and the Helen Suzman Foundation are challenging the parole in court and want it to be cancelled.