Former president Jacob Zuma says he will not subject himself to “an oppressive and unjust court system”.
He said this in a late night statement after the Constitutional Court on Thursday heard argument by the state capture inquiry, which is asking the court to hold Zuma in contempt of court and to order his imprisonment for two years after he failed to comply with its order to abide by the commission’s lawful summons and directives.
Said Zuma: “Many now claim there is a constitutional crisis. I do not see any constitutional crisis when I accept the statutory sanction that may accompany my conscientious objection to the conduct of certain senior members of the judiciary. The crisis would arise if I refused to face the sanction that accompanies my stance, if so determined by a competent court and impartial forum.
“All I said is that I am not afraid of going to jail as I was not under the apartheid system. However, I will not subject myself to an oppressive and unjust court system. They can put my physical body behind prison doors; however, my spirit is free to speak against the injustice of the imprisonment.
“Our people — ordinary people — will gain their voice and when they do, not even the Constitutional Court will be spared the rigorous questions.
“All South Africans should be concerned about the dangerous situation we are heading towards. The core principles about separation of powers between the judiciary, legislature and the executive are being gradually weakened.
“More concerning for me as a person who fought for this democracy, is how the judiciary is now in the position where they are beyond reproach and the judges in this country are continuously taking extra powers to themselves to the detriment of legitimate democratic processes. I strongly agree with the public sentiment that is starting to see the emergence of a judicial dictatorship in SA. This, like the injustice of apartheid will not last as there are many like me who still stand for true freedom and democracy.
“Unfortunately, when people rise up against this judicial corruption, our young democracy will unravel and many democratic gains will be lost in the ashes that will be left of what used to be our democratic state.”
Zuma’s blistering attack came only hours after the state capture commission’s counsel Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC told the Constitutional Court that though Zuma had spoken of an imminent judicial crisis, there was none: “Our constitutional system provides an answer to what has transpired, even though it is unprecedented.”
The law provided that those who wilfully and in bad faith did not comply with court orders, were held in contempt, he said. “His status as former president does not protect him from the law.”
Judgment was reserved by the apex court.
This is a developing story
by Aron Hyman