SOUTH Africa’s Constitutional Court on Friday dismissed former president Jacob Zuma’s application to rescind the court’s earlier judgment, which sentenced him to 15 months’ imprisonment for contempt of court.
The country’s apex court had sentenced Zuma in June for failure to comply with an order the court passed in January ordering the former president to honour a summons to appear before the state capture commission in February.
While an order of the Constitutional Court cannot be appealed, the law makes provision for an order to be rescinded in narrow circumstances where it can be proven the order was made in the party’s absence and that an error was made by the court that granted it.
Zuma, who started serving his sentence in July, was released on medical parole on September 5, after serving 55 days of his prison term at the Estcourt Correctional Centre.
His release has resulted in three court applications which seek to set aside the medical parole granted by correctional services head Arthur Fraser.
In July, Zuma approached the court to rescind its judgment that sentenced him to jail. He said he was summarily sentenced without a trial and was not afforded an opportunity to advance mitigation after his conviction.
This was opposed by the state capture commission.
The majority judgment found Zuma had failed to demonstrate why the order was erroneously granted.
The majority emphasised that the interests of justice required the ConCourt to protect the principle of finality in litigation.
It noted that Zuma had a number of opportunities to appear to be represented in court earlier this year, but did not participate.
“To entertain Mr Zuma’s application in these circumstances would permit him to blow hot or cold. It would fly in the face of the interests of justice for a party to be allowed to wilfully refuse to participate in litigation and then expect the opportunity to reopen the case when it suits them,” Khampepe read the summary of the majority on Friday morning.
The majority dismissed Zuma’s application for rescission with costs. □