South Africa’s Police have said that they will not make any move to arrest ex-President Jacob Zuma until he has fully exhausted his legal battle against his sentence.
Zuma, 79, who has been handed a 15-month jail term for contempt, made another legal attempt on Tuesday to dodge incarceration, going to court to seek the suspension of an arrest order.
Zuma has mounted a two-pronged last-ditch attempt to avoid jail after the Constitutional Court, the country’s top judicial authority, slapped him with the sentence last week.
He was told to turn himself in by midnight on Sunday, failing which police would be instructed to arrest him within the following three days.
On Friday, Zuma rushed to court seeking to halt the execution of the arrest order.
His lawyer Dali Mpofu told the Pietermaritzburg High Court, as it started sitting, that he was “effectively” seeking to interdict the execution of the arrest warrant for a man who turns 80 on his next birthday and whose “health condition is uncontestably precarious”, is not a flight risk and is in the care and security of the state.
Before the hearing even started, lawyers for the police had written to Constitutional Court saying they will pause on the order to arrest Zuma given the “unique situation presented by the developments and the legal matrix involved.”
Mpofu commended the police for considering “the aggravated situation in the country around this matter,” pointing to the “volatile security situation that may be posed by this matter”.
The hearing continues Tuesday.
Zuma has separately pleaded with the Constitutional Court to reconsider and rescind its jail order. That challenge will be heard on July 12.
He was ordered to be jailed for disobeying a court order to appear before a commission probing massive state corruption under his nine-year tenure.
His ruling African National Congress (ANC) has vowed not to interfere in Zuma’s attempt to evade jail because “we believe that the judiciary must be left to make its own decisions”.
“The interests of an individual cannot take precedence over or jeopardise the interests of our democracy or of the nation,” said the party’s deputy secretary general Jesse Duarte following a special meeting of the ANC’s National Executive Committee held on Monday.
“We believe that the judiciary must be left to make its own decisions,” she said.