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South Africa’s Zuma told to suggest own sentence in contempt case

South Africa’s ex-president Jacob Zuma has until Wednesday to suggest what sentence he should be given if found guilty of contempt of court, in a marked deviation from the standard rule book.

Zuma, who turned 79 on Monday, repeatedly snubbed a judicial panel investigating the plunder of state coffers during his nine-year rule, claiming bias on the part of its chair and political interference in the judiciary.

The former head of state testified only once in July 2019 before staging a walkout days later.

On January 28, the Constitutional Court ordered Zuma to appear before the commission led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo but he ignored the order.

Zondo then petitioned the country’s top court to jail the scandal-tainted former leader for two years for contempt.

A defiant Zuma skipped the hearing last month and did not file required affidavits.

The court now wants Zuma to determine “what constitutes the appropriate sanction” if he is found guilty.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng last Friday directed Zuma to file an affidavit of no longer than 15 pages on or before Wednesday explaining “the nature and magnitude of sentence that should be imposed” on him.

It is still unclear if the former president will honour the directive.

Neither his lawyer nor his foundation the two avenues for his communications  replied to repeated attempts for comment.

Experts say it was uncommon for the court to issue such a directive.

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