The Zuma Timeline: From defying the Concourt to arrest, his release and being ordered back to jail

Published Jul 14, 2023


Former President Jacob Zuma's legal troubles and his subsequent imprisonment in July 2021 can be traced back to his defiance of a directive from the Constitutional Court to appear before the Zondo Commission, which was investigating allegations of state capture by the Gupta brothers during his presidency.

The commission requested the court's intervention after Zuma staged a walkout in November 2020.

In February 2021, the Constitutional Court ordered Zuma to appear before the commission and answer all questions between 15 and 19 February.

However, he refused to comply, leading the commission to request his imprisonment.

Here is how the events unfolded:

In June 2021, after hearing arguments from the commission, the Constitutional Court sentenced Zuma to 15 months in prison and instructed the police to ensure his arrest. Zuma and his legal team made efforts to have the decision overturned, filing various court papers. However, the court withheld its ruling while the deadline for Zuma to surrender or face arrest approached.

During this period, thousands of Zuma's supporters, dressed in ANC regalia, gathered outside his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, vowing to prevent his arrest. There were tensions between the police and the supporters when they initially blocked the Nkandla-Kranskop road, but the situation was eventually resolved.

On 7 July 2021, Zuma decided to take control of the situation and avoid being arrested publicly by surrendering himself. He began serving his sentence at the Estcourt Correctional Centre in KwaZulu-Natal on 8 July 2021, with some supporters like Carl Niehaus showing solidarity outside the prison.

In July 2021, a group of men blocked the N2 near Ballito in Durban, and trucks were torched in Mooi-River along the N3 leading to Johannesburg. The looting lasted for seven days, and some of the looters claimed their actions were in support of freeing Zuma from prison.

In September 2021, the Department of Correctional Services announced that Zuma had been placed on medical parole, allowing him to serve the rest of his sentence at home. This decision sparked legal challenges by the DA, Helen Suzman Foundation, and Afriforum, who argued that former Correctional Services boss Arthur Fraser had overstepped his authority by overruling the parole board. They took the matter to court and were successful in their challenge.

However, on 13 July 2023, the Constitutional Court ruled that the department's appeal had no prospect of success, effectively sending Zuma back to jail without explicitly stating so.

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