Acting chief justice Sisi Khampepe handed down the Constitutional Court judgment in former president Jacob Zuma’s contempt of court case on June 29 2021.

The Constitutional Court found former president Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to a 15-month jail term for his failure to comply with an order of SA’s apex court to testify before the state capture inquiry.

The full bench heard arguments from the state capture inquiry in March after the former president refused to testify before it. 

Zuma did not oppose the contempt of court proceedings and indicated he had no intention of participating in them.

While Zuma has been given until the weekend to hand himself over to police, reaction has been pouring in after the judgment.


Jacob Zuma’s son, Edward Zuma:

Whatever decision law-enforcement agencies decide upon, they will have to pass by me. I will lay down my life for President Zuma. Nobody is going to take Zuma to jail before I die. We are in a situation of war here, we can’t be considering Covid-19 situations — if it means we die, we will die.

Reverend Frank Chikane:

This is a great day for SA. We have established the supremacy of the constitution and that all of us are equal before the law ... we really welcome it. It gives hope to this country.

Cas Coovadia, Business Unity SA:

This is a well-thought-out judgment that emphasises equality before the law. A judgment like this serves to give confidence to investors that we have an environment where they can depend on the law.

Defend democracy campaign:

The judgment is an important vindication of the constitution’s authority, the independence of SA’s judiciary and the rule of law. In particular, today’s judgment underlines the essential principle that all are equal before the constitution and our law.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe:

“The ANC is currently studying the judgment. Without doubt this is a difficult period in the movement and we call upon our members to remain calm. The meeting of the national executive committee (NEC) scheduled to take place this weekend will reflect on implications and consequences of the judgment.”

Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis:

“If Jacob Zuma, on being removed from office, had quietly gone back to Nkandla and lived out the rest of his life there, this needn’t have happened to him. Instead, he wilfully set about destroying every institution that he could in the country and undermined the administration that took over from him. He never understood that on becoming the president of the country, it didn’t mean that the resources of the country belong to him and it didn’t mean that he was the commander of the institutions of the country.”

Amnesty International SA executive director Shenilla Mohamed: 

“The judgment handed down by the Constitutional Court in the contempt of court matter is an important development for the rule of law. It is a reminder that no-one is above the law, no matter who they are or their social or political status.”

Legal analyst and attorney Ulrich Roux:

“I firmly believed that the decision he made was his own, in its entirety. It was [as] if he was just completely, completely stubborn and just refused to bend the knee. Unfortunately for him, this is our highest court in the land and you cannot expect to just criticise it high and low and [...] not expect anything to happen to you.”

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald:

“The judgment sends a loud and clear message that Zuma and everyone else in SA must realise that they are not above the law and that they must respect it. Zuma would do well to obey the ruling and to peacefully turn himself in to serve his punishment.”

Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) NEC Member Carl Niehaus:

“As MKMVA, we will oppose the imprisonment of [the president] as a matter of legal, political and revolutionary principle. We will use every legal avenue available to us to oppose Nxamalala’s imprisonment, and to register our outrage.”

Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) research officer Dan Mafora.

“The decision is a win for SA's constitutional democracy. Zuma’s ‘flagrant disregard for the rule of law warranted a 15-month prison sentence. The court's unambiguous order of direct imprisonment is proportional to the extraordinary act of contempt that Mr Zuma committed.”

Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi:

“It is shocking; President [Jacob] Zuma is now urgently consulting with his lawyers about the way forward.”

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa:

“This is a strong message that no-one is above the law and is a stern warning that all South Africans should respect the courts and the laws of this country.”

IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa:

“This matter did not have to go this far, had the former president complied with the directive of the state capture commission. We hope that he will respect and honour this ruling, and comply with the order that he must submit himself to the police within the next five days.”

Defend our democracy

“We call on the former President and his supporters to respect and abide by the decision of the court. Moreover, we call on the criminal justice authorities to act on the judgment and ensure effective implementation thereof.”

Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage:

“[Zuma] displayed contempt for the state capture commission and the Constitutional Court, making a mockery of his publicly made oath as incoming president — twice — to uphold the constitution.”

DA leader John Steenhuisen:

“Long before Zuma was public enemy number one, we rang the alarm that Zuma was destroying democracy and subverting the constitutional order to enrich his friends and family. We call on Mr Zuma to co-operate with law enforcement agencies and to hand himself over to begin to serve the sentence.”

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