Jun 29, 2021 - World

Court orders former South African president Jacob Zuma to be arrested for contempt

Former South African President Jacob Zuma addresses his supporters.

Jacob Zuma addresses his supporters following the postponement of his corruption trial on May 26, 2021. Photo: PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images

South Africa's highest court Tuesday sentenced former president Jacob Zuma to 15 months in prison, ordering him to be arrested on contempt after failing to appear at an inquiry into corruption while he was president, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Zuma's presidency — from 2009 to 2018 — was tainted by financial scandals, corruption and mismanagement, per the New York Times.

  • Zuma's arrest comes five months after the Constitutional Court ordered the ex-president to appear before a corruption inquiry. Zuma ignored the high court’s contempt proceedings and failed to show up to testify.
  • South Africa's current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is leading the charge to root out corruption in the government and the A.N.C. party — a cause many South Africans have united around.

What they're saying: Acting Chief Justice Sisi Khampepe said Zuma, who was not at court during the hearings, "elected instead to make provocative, unmeritorious and vituperative statements that constituted a calculated effort to impugn the integrity of the judiciary," per BBC.

What's next: Zuma, 79, is also being prosecuted on charges of racketeering, corruption, fraud and money laundering after being accused of taking bribes from a French arms manufacturer as deputy president in 1999, per the NYT.

  • Zuma has been given five days to hand himself in at a police station before the police minister must order his arrest, according to BBC.

Go deeper: Zuma's last stand: South African president's time is running out

Go deeper