All eyes will be on the police on Wednesday, with a Constitutional Court-imposed deadline to arrest former president Jacob Zuma by midnight still in place.
On Tuesday, the former president made an urgent application to the high court to “stay” the execution of his arrest, but judge Bhekisisa Mnguni said he would deliver judgment on Friday.
In the absence of a court order from the high court, the arrest order of the Constitutional Court stands. In law, Zuma should be arrested if he does not hand himself in.
The Constitutional Court last week declared Zuma in contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months in prison. The contempt order came after Zuma defied the ConCourt’s earlier order to appear before the state capture inquiry to give evidence as per its summons. According to the court order, the former president was supposed to turn himself in by Sunday, failing which the police had to arrest him by the end of Wednesday.
On Friday he launched two separate court cases: the urgent bid in the high court and one in the Constitutional Court to reverse or “rescind” its contempt judgment. On Saturday the ConCourt said it would hear Zuma’s rescission application on July 12.
It emerged on Monday that police minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner Gen Khehla Sitole had written to the Constitutional Court saying they would hold off making an arrest until the litigation in both courts was finalised.
The letter, attached to Zuma’s high court papers, said it was their view that the pending litigation had a “direct impact” on what they had been ordered to do. This despite being “fully aware that the litigation steps taken by Mr Zuma cannot be categorised as appeal processes, which in usual cases would have an effect of suspending the operation of a court order,” they said.
However, they said “in view of the unique situation”, the police would “out of respect of the unfolding litigation … hold further actions they are expected to take in terms of this honourable court’s orders in abeyance pending finalisation of the litigation alternatively, pending any directions” from the highest court.
On Tuesday morning, Cele was categorical in an interview with Newzroom Afrika that if the high court rejected Zuma’s case and if the Constitutional Court did not give any new directions, its original order was what would guide the police.
“If there is no new direction, we do have a direction that ends at midnight on Wednesday. The direction is that if Mr Zuma does not hand himself [in], the police will have to arrest him,” said Cele.
At the time of publication, TimesLIVE was unaware of any new direction from the Constitutional Court. Zuma may also still urgently apply to the Constitutional Court to suspend its order, pending its decision on his rescission application.
by FRANNY RABKIN