- “We did not struggle, I didn’t struggle because I had a team that assisted, together with the family, and the fact that the former president complied with everything that we were suggesting.”
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It may have broken her emotionally, but top cop Maj-Gen Nonhlanhla Zulu is the one who convinced former president Jacob Zuma to hand himself over to correctional services to begin his 15-month prison sentence. Zulu, the head of the SAPS’ operational response services, engaged in a marathon nine-hour negotiation with the 79-year-old at his Nkandla home until he finally conceded at 11.15pm.
Speaking during a briefing in Empangeni, northern KwaZulu-Natal, on Friday, Zulu described the operation as “emotionally draining”.
She would not reveal how she managed to get into Zuma’s home, but said she had engaged with him from 2pm on Wednesday.
“I am grateful for the fact that there was no bloodshed and the fact that the former president respected the law. There was no hassle, I know people were speculating and didn’t want to hear from people involved in this, but I just want to thank the former president for respecting the law and all the people engaged in this task.
“We did not struggle, I didn’t struggle because I had a team that assisted, together with the family, and the fact that the former president complied with everything that we were suggesting.”
I also respected the fact that the former president respected me as an individual in that we were able to negotiate, talk and reach an agreement with the family and those who were delegated by himMaj-Gen Nonhlanhla Zulu
She said they approached the situation with integrity, given Zuma was an elderly, sick man.
“We respected that he still has a status of a president.”
Fighting back tears, Zulu said the operation was an emotional rollercoaster.
“I feel honoured and proud to have represented the police and South Africans because this was an international matter. I also respected the fact that the former president respected me as an individual in that we were able to negotiate, talk and reach an agreement with the family and those who were delegated by him.”
Being younger than him, she reiterated her respect for Zuma for listening to her.
“He was able to listen, with the family, and took a decision to respect this country and respect himself, his status and his dignity.”
Zulu said there was an “extremely emotional” send-off between Zuma and his family during his final moments in his home.
“You will understand that, as a father, in front of your kids and your wife, how difficult it is to see your father get inside a car knowing very well where he is going. It was an emotional process for those few minutes where he had to leave.”
Police minister Bheki Cele lauded Zulu and members of the police who were deployed from around the country for what he deemed a “major operation” which took hard work and intense planning. TimesLIVE