Former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma has been found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment.
The verdict was delivered by the country’s constitutional court on Tuesday after the ex-president failed to appear and participate at the state capture inquiry.
Acting president of the court, Justice Sisi Khampepe in reading out the guilty verdict, said never before had the authority and legitimacy of the Constitutional Court been subjected to the level of attacks posed by Zuma.
Mr. Zuma since leaving office in 2018 has been facing several corruption allegations and had appeared before a commission investigating the state capture scandal.
The scandal involves businessmen accused of conspiring with politicians to influence the decision-making process.
Zuma made one appearance at the inquiry in 2019 but then refused to appear subsequently.
The inquiry headed by Justice Raymond Zondo then asked the Constitutional Court to intervene.
The court said Zuma is not an ordinary litigant and since he is a former president, he wields a lot of political power.
There are fears he can influence others to disregard courts, if his conduct is met with impunity, leading to significant damage to the rule of law.
The former president is now expected to submit himself at Nkandla or Johannesburg Central within 5 calendar days for the station commander to ensure that he is immediately committed to a correctional facility.
According to the court if he does not, as required, the minister of police and the national commissioner of police must within three days take all steps necessary and permissible in law to ensure that Mr. Zuma is committed to a correctional centre.
Jacob Zuma will now be the first democratic president to be imprisoned since the ANC came to power in 1994 after the end of Apartheid.