ANC nkandla jacob zuma

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Jacob Zuma ‘made his prison bed and must lie in it’ court now hears

The Constitutional Court did not make Jacob Zuma’s prison bed for him but rather his own decision to defy the court order has led him here.

ANC nkandla jacob zuma

Photo: Twitter

The Helen Suzman Foundation opposed former president Jacob Zuma’s application for a stay of execution of the order for his arrest in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday.

Advocate Max du Plessis, acting for the foundation which opposed the judgment along with the Zondo Commission, said Zuma was “no victim” and he had acted with “constitutional deviance” in defying the Constitutional Court orders against him.

Jacob Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment in the Constitutional Court last Tuesday. He was given five days to hand himself over to the police, failing which the court had ordered that the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, and the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, shoaled take “legal steps” to arrest him to ensure his incarceration. The five day period was up on Sunday. 

Zondo Commission advocate, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi had earlier argued before high court Judge Bhekisisa Mnguni that Zuma remained in contempt of court for not handing himself over and that the High Court did not have the jurisdiction to interdict the execution of the order for his arrest handed down by the Constitutional Court.

Du Plessis concurred saying that the relief that Zuma had sought from the High court was “exceptional relief” in that he was asking the court to interdict the ruling of a higher court. He said Zuma’s advocate, Dali Mpofu, had not presented a single instance of case law where a high court had interdicted a Constitutional Court order.

Mpofu had earlier argued that a minority of Constitutional Court judges had found that the order against Zuma was in some respects “unconstitutional” and that the court had not “seen the wood for the trees”. He argued that the Constitutional Court was not supreme to the Constitution and that Zuma’s right to not face detention without trial was being trampled. 

However, du Plessis disagreed.

“The Constitutional Court did not make Mr Zuma’s bed,Mr ZUma made his own prison bed and after weighing his dignity the court ordered that he must now lie in it,” du Plessis said.

He said Jacob Zuma had come to the high court seeking “special treatment”.

“The woods are what bind, it is not the two trees of the minority judgement,” he said.

He said the court was being asked to do “the most incredibly extravagant form of intervention”.

“It is only the Constitutional Court that can overrun its order and only in exceptional circumstances…It is clear that you may not approach the assistance of the court until you have purged your contempt,” he said.

Du Plessis said that granting the interdict would “send a chilling message to litigants that an order of the court may be of no consequence.”

Judgement was reserved until Friday 9 July.