The paramount importance of the rule of law was upheld by Tuesday’s judgment of the Constitutional Court, says Corruption Watch.
Acting deputy chief justice Sisi Khampepe found former president Jacob Zuma guilty of “egregious” and “aggravated” contempt of court, and ordered him to serve 15 months behind bars.
“This is a historically significant moment,” said Karam Singh, head of legal and investigations at Corruption Watch.
“For the first time in SA, we are seeing a former head of state held directly accountable by way of a prison sentence for his refusal to submit himself to the state capture inquiry or to the jurisdiction of the ConCourt in this matter.
“Indirectly this speaks to his culpability in presiding over a period of state capture that has had lasting and damaging effects on the country.”
The judgment is momentous as it upholds the fundamental constitutional principle that all are equal before the law, said Corruption Watch.
The ruling “will also act as a substantial deterrent to those who have thought nothing of making scurrilous and contemptuous statements about the Constitutional Court and the judiciary in general”.
In addition to the custodial sentence, there is a cost order against the former president, on a punitive scale, ordering him to pay the legal costs spent by the state capture inquiry in having him jailed for contempt.