Africa & World

Zuma’s supporters take his freedom bid to ICC

STAUNCH supporters of Jacob Zuma will head to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherlands in their bid to have the incarcerated former president released.

Zuma, who has now spent a month in jail, was confined in the Estcourt correctional facility after the Constitutional Court sentenced him to 15 months in jail for contempt of court. Zuma refused to appear before the state capture commission chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Zuma’s application for Justice Zondo to recuse himself was turned down by the commission’s chair, citing no conflict of interest between the two parties.

On Wednesday, the #FreeJacobZuma campaign team, which includes Andile Lungisa, Carl Niehaus and Lufuno Gogoro, announced in a statement their intention to approach the highest court in the world in their bid to expose the “unconstitutional” imprisonment of the former head of state.

“The #FreeJacobZuma campaign reiterate our conviction that the continuing imprisonment of president Zuma is illegal, and that he is now the first political prisoner since the advent of democracy on April 27, 1994.

Zuma’s supporters also want President Cyril Ramaphosa to account for his initial remarks in which he addressed the nation and said the riots and looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal were “ethnic mobilisation”.

They likened his remarks to the police’s deadly strike at Marikana in 2012, which resulted in the killing of protesting miners who were demanding salary hikes.

“It is evident that it was President Ramaphosa’s fundamentally wrong characterisation of the terrible unrest and demonstration of desperation by increasingly hopeless poor people that led to the preventable genocide that led the Indian community in Phoenix to mistakable (mistakenly) believe that it had Carte Blanche to arm itself, and go on a killing spree of innocent ‘Zulu’ people. No different to the ’concomitant actions’ comments in 2012 that led to the Marikana massacre,” read the statement.

“Following the President’s failure or/and refusal to address the demands we had given him to release president Zuma, and a call that all the legal targeting and persecution that he has endured must end forthwith, we will now be embarking on several key programmes of action, which will be peaceful and within the confines of the law.”

Zuma’s supporters indicated that they have the backing of an international human rights legal team which will assist them in their case.

Legal expert Mpumelelo Zikalala said the move may present legal challenges as there were legal procedural steps that were not taken by Zuma. “Going to the ICC was going to be a challenging exercise considering the matter of jurisdiction. The Concourt may argue Zuma never approached it when (Justice) Zondo refused to recuse himself. It was erroneous for Zuma’s legal team to even approach the Pietermaritzburg Court to challenge the Concourt judgment which ruled against Zuma.

“They made an error of not going back to Concourt to argue on the sentence and request leniency, but resorted to approaching a lower court. In other words, Zuma’s legal team wanted the high court judge to probe Concourt justices on their judgment.”

Zikalala argued that worse was to come as Zuma faced other charges in which he is accused of corruption. He said: “If you think the contempt of court charges are worse, what will happen if the court decided to sentence him to 15 years if found guilty on those criminal charges?”

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Tyrone Seale, said the president had no comment on the matter.

Zuma’s fraud and corruption trial at the Pietermaritzburg High Court has been postponed to Tuesday.

  • Source: Pretoria News

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