Former South African President, Jacob Zuma, handed himself over to police custody just minutes before the midnight deadline for police to arrest him to begin serving a 15-month prison term for contempt.
“President Zuma has decided to comply with the incarceration order. He is on his way to hand himself into a Correctional Services Facility in KZN (KwaZulu-Natal province),” a tweet posted by the Zuma Foundation said.
South Africa’s police confirmed that Zuma was in their custody.
Zuma refused to comply with a court order to appear before a judicial inquiry into corruption during his term as president from 2009-2018 that Zuma allowed his associates, members of the Gupta family to influence his Cabinet appointments and lucrative contracts. This brought the Constitutional Court to convict him of contempt and sentence him to prison.
Zuma is also standing trial on charges of corruption related to a 1999 arms deal, where he allegedly received bribes from French arms manufacturer Thales.
In papers filed on Friday, two days before the expiry of a deadline for him to surrender to police in preparation for imprisonment, Zuma pleaded that the order be “reconsidered and rescinded” and that the application be heard on July 12.
Zuma, in the documents filed on Friday, said he had been advised “it will not be futile to make one last attempt to invite the Constitutional Court to relook its decision and to merely reassess whether it has acted within the Constitution or, erroneously, beyond the powers vested in the court by the Constitution.”
Justice Minister, Ronald Lamola on Thursday said the former president will be eligible for parole after around four months of his 15-months prison sentence.
Zuma will be held in isolation for 14 days in line with COVID-19 protocols, the Justice Minister added.
Zuma is at the Estcourt Correctional Centre, about 175 km (110 miles) from his rural homestead in Nkandla, eastern South Africa.