Jul 7, 2021 - World

Jacob Zuma turns himself in to begin prison sentence for contempt of court

Former South African President Jacob Zuma, in a navy blue suit and red tie, speaks into a microphone as he addresses supporters.
Jacob Zuma addresses supporters outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court on May 26. Photo: Deaan Vivier/Beeld/Gallo Images via Getty Images

Former South African President Jacob Zuma turned himself into police Wednesday night to begin serving a 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Zuma's successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has made rooting out government corruption central to his tenure, and the high-profile investigation into Zuma's government is seen as a test of the rule of law in post-apartheid South Africa.

The big picture: The 79-year-old former leader faced a midnight deadline to turn himself in, after being arrested and sentenced in late June for failing to appear at a hearing investigating alleged corruption during his time in office.

  • Zuma's time in office, from 2009 to 2018, was marked by financial scandal and accusations of mismanagement and corruption, per the New York Times. He also faces charges of racketeering, corruption, fraud and money laundering stemming from accusations tied to his time as deputy president in 1999.

What's next: South Africa's high court will hear a challenge to his jail term on July 12.

  • Zuma has said that the sentence is excessive and politically motivated, and that incarceration could expose him to COVID-19, per Reuters.
Go deeper