…By Paul Ejime
Under fire former South African President Jocab Zuma, finally surrendered himself to the police late Wednesday after failing in his legal and political attempts to delay serving the 15-month sentence imposed on him by the Constitutional Court last week.
The apex court found Zuma, 79, guilty of contempt for failing to appear to answer corruption charges during his time in office (2013-18).
In handing down the 15-month jail sentence last Friday, the court gave him three days to report himself to the police or be arrested by mid-night Wednesday.
Defiant Zuma had rallied political support with his supporters forming a “human shield” in his home in Kwazulu Natal province. He also launched legal challenges at a High Court and the Constititional Court aimed at setting aside the prison sentence.
The High Court heard application on Tuesday had reserved ruling until Friday, the same day that the Constititional Court is also expected to hear his appeal.
But having anticipated failure from the attempts, the former anti-apartheid hero, changed his mind and decided to turn himself over to the police.
Senior poilice officers were at his residence for several hours, apparently for negotiations of the modalities before he was driven off in a police vehicle to a nearby prison to begin his jail term.
It is unclear what prompted Zuma’s change of mind, but the development is seen as both a political humiliation for the once revered hero, and victory to judicial independence and democracy on South Africa.
Zuma still has other legal troubles with several corruption cases pending against him in courts, including arms deal dating from the 1990s and the infamous Gupta “state capture” scandal.