Last week, the South African Constitutional Court found former South African President Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt for defying its order to appear before a corruption inquiry.
A deadline for his arrest had been set for midnight on Sunday. However, the constitutional court later agreed to hear his challenge to the 15-month jail term he was given.
Just how that affects the arrest deadline is unclear.
“There is no need for me to go to jail today,” Mr Zuma, 79, told reporters outside his home in Nkandla in Kwa-Zulu Natal province on yesterday. “Sending me to jail during the height of a pandemic, at my age, is the same as sentencing me to death,” he added.
Msholozi’s supporters yesterday gathered and formed what they called a ‘human shield’ outside his house in an attempt to stop his arrest. He said he had been “lambasted with a punitive jail sentence without trial” and that “South Africa is fast sliding back to apartheid rule”. “A messy confrontation would’ve ensued if police dared to arrest me,” said Jacob Zuma to hundreds of his supporters who erupted in loud cheers and whistling.
The gathering by his supporters is actually illegal under the country’s regulations aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19.
But there were no police officers in sight to disperse the gathering, leading many to say that the former president is above the law and that justice is not seen to be done when it comes to powerful politicians.
Mr Zuma has repeatedly told his supporters that he doesn’t fear imprisonment, but behind the scenes his legal team is working around the clock to keep him out.
The court has said it will consider Mr Zuma’s appeal on 12 July.
In the meantime, another appeal against the arrest order is expected to be heard by the high court of KwaZulu-Natal province on Tuesday.
The 79-year-old political veteran was ousted in 2018 after nine years in power, amid corruption allegations.
By Eric Knight