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Zuma wakes up in jail

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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

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National

Maya appointed deputy chief justice

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MAKING HISTORY AGAIN . . . Justice Mandisa Muriel Lindelwa Maya

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Supreme Court of Appeal Judge President Justice Mandisa Muriel Lindelwa Maya as the deputy chief justice of of South Africa.

A statement issued by the presidency on Monday said Maya will assume her new role from September 1, 2022.

“Justice Maya will contribute to the ongoing transformation process of the judiciary,” said Ramaphosa in the statement.

“Her ascendency to the apex court will serve as a beacon of hope for scores of young women and make them believe that South Africa is a country of possibilities regardless of gender, social or economic circumstances,” he added.

According to the statement, Maya brings more than two decades of a distinguished career as a judicial officer.

She is the first woman to hold the positions of deputy president and president of the Supreme Court of Appeal. – Staff Reporter

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Jessie Duarte laid to rest after succumbing to cancer

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SUCCUMBED TO CANCER . . . ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte

ANC deputy secretary general and former ambassador Jessie Duarte was laid to rest on Sunday afternoon.

She succumbed to cancer on Sunday morning and, as per Muslim rites, she was buried after a funeral service at Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg.

In his message of condolence, President Cyril Ramaphosa described Duarte as a selfless leader whose love and passion for assisting the poor were immeasurable.

“Jessie Duarte’s sense of justice was keen. Her sympathies for the poor, the vulnerable, the destitute, and the marginalised ran deep.

“She had empathy and could walk in other people’s shoes and see through their eyes. It is this that enabled her to see the suffering of our people and empathise with them.

“She took up their cause and stood firm on her principles, even when her stance attracted criticism or personal attack. She was a champion of the oppressed everywhere,” said Ramaphosa.

The president said ANC officials had planned to visit Duarte on Sunday afternoon, but were instead met by the news of her death.

He stressed the pivotal role played by her in her pursuit of equality.

“As the secretary of the Federation of Transvaal Women, she was part of building and leading a powerful women’s movement that directly challenged the oppression of black women and shook the foundations of the apartheid state.

“She mobilised women across the country to resist the restrictions imposed upon them by a racist and sexist political system and a patriarchal society.”

Ramaphosa declared a special official funeral for Duarte.

She was granted the special funeral as a result of having been South Africa’s ambassador to Mozambique from 1999 to 2003.

The 69-year-old Duarte was undergoing cancer treatment and had been on medical leave since November last year. – News24

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Eskom puzzled by municipalities taking it to court

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JUST PAY UP . . . Eskom Central East Cluster general manager Agnes Mlambo wants municipalities to settle their accounts on time and avoid unnecessary court battles

National power utility Eskom says it does not understand why some municipalities failing to settle their accounts on time choose to rush to the courts instead of simply paying what’s due.

Eskom’s Central East Cluster general manager Agnes Mlambo said this after Letsemeng Local Municipality in the Free State and Matlosana Local Municipality in the North-West were forced in two separate court rulings this week to settle the arrears for their bulk electricity supplies and always pay on time as they are legally obliged to do.

Mlambo, who is responsible for the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal region, says she finds it incredible that some municipalities are willing to spend millions on legal costs instead of using the funds to pay for electricity services delivered by Eskom.

“This proves the unwillingness of these municipalities to do the right thing, which is to fulfil their legal duties by paying Eskom for electricity supplied,” Mlambo is quoted as saying in a statement.

“These municipalities collect revenue from electricity sales at a mark-up from their customers, but do not pass the revenue on to Eskom.

“In the meantime, Eskom must cover the costs of diesel, coal, salaries and other expenses to keep supplying electricity to these non-paying municipalities.”

Eskom provincial spokesperson Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg said the judgments conclude lengthy legal battles that started in 2020 when the power utility served the municipalities with notices to interrupt electricity services due to non-payment of their electricity accounts.

“Both judgments are unambiguous on the obligation of the municipalities to service their Eskom current accounts and pay arrear debt,” said Van Rensburg.

She said since the start of the legal proceedings, the two municipalities have been taking payment holidays but they now have to pay.

In January 2020, Letsemeng’s arrear debt totalled R41.1-million.

Now, two and a half years later, the municipality’s overdue debt has risen to R119.7-million and it is faced with paying the legal costs of both parties.

And similar to Letsemeng, Matlosana’s arear debt stood at R422.4-million in January 2020 and has now reached a staggering R1.054-billion.

Eskom Northern Cape and North- West Cluster general manager Marion Hughes said payment for services is imperative for institutions to be sustainable.

“We should not have to use extraordinary measures, like the courts, in order to receive payment for services rendered,” said Hughes.

“For Eskom to survive another 99 years and more, a high sense of responsibility and commitment is needed by all.” – Staff Reporter

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