Connect with us

National

Zuma wakes up in jail

Published

on

After days of drama and suspense before handing himself in, former South Africa president Jacob Zuma began a 15-month sentence for contempt on Thursday, after spending his first night in jail.

The former prisoner of the apartheid regime had kept the country on tenterhooks by trying all legal avenues to evade jail, but he became an inmate once again shortly after midnight.

It is the first time a former president has been jailed in post-apartheid South Africa.

He handed himself in at a recently renovated jail in the small mining town of Estcourt in his KwaZulu-Natal home province.

The sentence handed to Zuma by the Constitutional Court last week for snubbing anti-graft investigators also set a benchmark for the continent in jailing a former head of state for refusing to respond to a corruption probe.

Many South Africans hailed Zuma’s incarceration as a watershed moment that would strengthen the rule of law in the country.

Former corruption buster and ex-ombudswoman Thuli Madonsela hailed it as a “glorious day, in that it says that the rule of law prevails”.

If he had not gone to prison, “it would have sent shock waves to the system,” she said on public television on Thursday.

The day before, police had warned they were prepared to arrest Zuma by a midnight deadline to enforce the ruling, unless the top court instructed otherwise.

But in the end the former leader decided to comply.

Just minutes before the deadline expired, his foundation tweeted that Zuma had “decided to comply with the incarceration order” and hand himself to a correctional facility.

This is the second time Zuma, democratic South Africa’s former president – after Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki – has been in prison.

He spent 10 years in jail on the notorious Robben Island for his role in the armed struggle against the apartheid system.

In a tweet, Zuma’s daughter, Dudu Zuma-Sambudla, said that her father had jokingly said on his way to prison “that he hopes they still have his same overalls from Robben Island”.

Zuma had earlier in the week mounted a last-ditch legal defence and refused to turn himself in.

On Wednesday, he then pleaded anew with the court for an 11th-hour reprieve, requesting that it suspend its arrest orders until all legal processes were finalised – under the ruling, police were given three days to arrest him if he failed to surrender.

Zuma’s first application to halt his arrest was heard on Tuesday, but the judgment was reserved until Friday.

Separately, he has pleaded with the Constitutional Court to reconsider and rescind its jail order.

That challenge will be heard next Monday.

Zuma, 79, was forced out of office in 2018 and replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa after a nine-year tenure stained by corruption scandals and the taint of cronyism.

Critics nicknamed him the “Teflon president” for his perceived ability to sidestep justice.

But his fortunes changed on June 29 when the court issued its damning judgment against him for contempt.

Zuma had refused to obey a court order to appear before a commission probing the siphoning-off of state assets under his presidency.

At the weekend he defiantly declared he was prepared to go to prison, even though “sending me to jail during the height of a pandemic, at my age, is the same as sentencing me to death”.

Despite his tarnished reputation, the former president carries substantial weight among officials and grassroots members of the ruling African National Congress.

The former herdboy was the ANC’s intelligence chief during the armed struggle against apartheid was deputy president before ascending to the country’s top job in 2009.

Despite its internal tensions and divisions, the ANC said it would not interfere with the judiciary processes enveloping Zuma.

Zuma has also been accused of involvement in a bribery affair dating back more than 20 years.

He faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering relating to a 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military gear from five European arms firms for R30 billion. – AP

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

National

17 confirmed dead at East London tavern

Published

on

HORROR AT CLUB . . . Police are investigating the deaths of at least 17 patrons at a tavern in East London

Authorities are investigating the deaths of at least 17 patrons found inside a popular township tavern in East London, police officials said on Sunday.

Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said police were alerted by members of the public to the incident at Scenery Park, about three kms from the city centre.

“The circumstances under which they died are under investigation,” Kinana said, adding it was too early to determine the cause of death of the young adults aged between 18-20 years. – Reuters

Continue Reading

Local

Zondo wants Magashule, Zwane charged over failed Vrede Dairy Project

Published

on

CALLING FOR ACTION . . . Chief Justice Raymond Zondo wants law enforcement agencies to pursue Free State government officials involved in the failed Vrede Dairy Project

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has marked the trio of former Free State premier Ace Magashule, former MEC Mosebenzi Zwane and former head of the provincial agriculture department Peter Thabethe as possibly liable for the infamous Vrede Dairy Project and wants them charged for their roles in the failed enterprise.

In the latest report of the State Capture Commission of Inquiry released on Wednesday evening, Zondo found that the Free State provincial government unlawfully paid a Gupta family-linked company, Estina, over R280-million for a project that ironically sidelined small-scale black farmers – the intended beneficiaries of the project – and got nothing in return.

“The whole Vrede Dairy Project (debacle) happened because Mr Thabethe dismally failed to do his job and failed to protect the interests of the [department of agriculture and rural development] and to protect taxpayers’ money,” read part of the report.

Thabethe is already facing criminal charges – together with other people and companies – in connection with the failed dairy project but the matter has been provisionally removed from the court roll.

Zwane and Magashule have however not been charged in the matter.

“It also happened because Mr Mosebenzi Zwane as MEC was pursuing the agenda of the Guptas and did not do his job to perform oversight over Mr Thabethe,” added the report.

“It also happened because the premier of the province, Mr Ace Magashule, would have also been pursuing the agenda of the Guptas.”

The main idea behind the Vrede Dairy Project was to introduce black farmers in the Memel and Vrede areas to farming with dairy cows, process their milk and sell milk products on the provincial and national dairy products market.

The farmers were told about the project by Zwane.

However, the promises made to these community members were never realised.

At best, according to the report, a few members of the community were employed at the dairy project as manual workers.

None of the local black dairy farmers were invited to bring their milk for processing at the dairy farm.

The investigation found that the consultancy work on the dairy project appears to have been undertaken by companies from outside South Africa which had some association with the Gupta family enterprises.

It said Estina had R16 in its bank account before the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development gave it a R30-million prepayment for the Vrede project in June 2012.

The prepayment was arranged by Zwane.

At the time, Estina had just one director, Kamal Vasram, a sales manager at the controversial Gupta family’s Sahara Computers.

“The company had no experience whatsoever in farming, never mind milk farming, or the crucial milk processing prior to its appointment. The core business of the company on the date of its appointment was still slated as ‘business consultant’,” said Zondo in the report.

Thabethe did not subject the project to competitive bidding and signed the contract with Estina without doing any due diligence, thereby violating the Public Finance Management Act.

“The Vrede Dairy Project failed in its first two years of operation . . . because of Mr Thabethe’s incompetence or because he was carrying out the agenda of the Guptas and cared less about the taxpayers’ money and the black farmers.

“Apart from anything else, Mr Thabethe must be held both criminally and civilly liable for his role in causing the department to lose so many millions of rands in taxpayers’ money,” Zondo suggested.

He said the Provincial Executive Council (EXCO) should have required Zwane and Thabethe to place before it full documentation which showed that all the legal and relevant prescripts had been complied with and that the implementation of the project and the appointment of Estina would be appropriate and reasonable.

Zondo dismissed the evidence of former treasury MEC Elzabe Rockman that a resolution of the executive council that the provincial agriculture department should implement the dairy project did not imply any breach of the law.

“This is so because the resolution said nothing about complying with the legal prescripts,” he said.

“But also, the EXCO should have preserved giving approval for implementation until satisfied themselves that implementation could still be lawful which they did not do.”

Zondo recommended that law enforcement agencies conduct further investigations to establish if Zwane and Magashule contravened any law in the roles they played in regard to the Vrede Dairy Project.

“The premier should have performed his oversight function over the MEC, Mr Zwane and the head of department Mr Thabethe, but failed dismally,” he said.

“It is necessary that there be consequences for people who fail to do their job . . . otherwise, this corruption and these acts of state capture are going to continue forever to the detriment of the country and all people.

“Neither the Provincial Legislature nor the ANC called the premier to account for the asbestos project and the R1-billion Housing Project debacle.

“Premiers must know they must supervise the MECs and their departments.”

Zondo also suggested that legal proceedings should be put in place in order to recover from Zwane and Magashule some of the monies lost by the provincial agriculture department in the Vrede Dairy Project as a result of their failure to perform their legal obligations.

He also wants members of the Gupta family and their associates involved in the dairy project to be criminally charged. – Staff Reporter

Continue Reading

National

Masks no longer compulsory as SA drops COVID-19 measures

Published

on

PANDEMIC MEASURES REMOVED . . . South Africa has repealed its COVID-19 regulations, including the compulsory wearing of masks

South Africa has dropped the compulsory wearing of masks in indoor settings as well as other measures put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19 following a marked decline in active cases.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla confirmed this during a media briefing in Pretoria on Thursday.

On Wednesday, he published a notice in the Government Gazette repealing the country’s COVID-19 regulations.

The minister also announced that limits on gathering sizes and border checks for COVID-19 also fall way with immediate effect.

According to Phaahla, by mid-June the country recorded a marked drop in new reported cases while the number of hospitalisations also dropped.

The effective reproductive rate of the virus declined to under 0.7 percent and the reported deaths also declined. – Staff Reporter

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2022. The Free Stater. All Rights Reserved