Zuma delays imprisonment, court agrees to hear his challenge

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July 3 (UPI) — After South African President Jacob Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison on contempt charges, South Africa’s constitutional court has agreed to hear his challenge to rescind the order.

The court delivered its imprisonment sentencing on Tuesday after Zuma failed to appear in a corruption inquiry led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. He not only failed to show up to testify but also ignored the court’s contempt proceedings entirely.

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Zuma was given until Sunday to turn himself in, after which the police were obliged to arrest him. The court, instead, agreed on Saturday to hear his application on July 12.

Zuma and his lawyers argued that “the sentence threatened his life and that the Constitutional Court‘s decision was unfair to their client,” according to CNN. Legal analysts say the application is unlikely to succeed but will buy Zuma more time.

Supporters of Zuma gathered around his home on Saturday. One supporter said that if Zuma was arrested, they would go to war.

“He ignored [the opportunities],” said Al Jazeera correspondent Fahmida Miller. “And now it seems just a day before he is supposed to hand himself over he is willing to talk to the Constitutional Court.”

Zuma was the first South African leader to be sentenced to prison on June 29. The corruption investigation is looking at various scandals that occurred during Zuma’s presidency between 2009 and 2018.

He has pleaded not guilty to corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering charges and has said the inquiry is politically motivated.