Nkandla residents in northern KwaZulu-Natal say they believe that former president Jacob Zuma has avoided possible bloodshed.
At the weekend, Zuma supporters and members of the MKMVA threatened that they will fight against his arrest.
His son, Edward, on Thursday remained resolute that no law enforcement officer was going to take his father to jail without a fight.
However, late at night – more than half an hour before the police deadline to take him into custody expired – the former president handed himself to authorities to begin his 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court.
Community members say they were hoping that the Constitutional Court was going to consider the former president’s age.
“He could see that there was going to be bloodshed and he decided that he will just hand himself over. I’m very sad about his arrest. I didn’t want him to go to jail. I don’t know whether they are now going to kill him in jail,” says one resident.
“I’m very ashamed of him getting arrested during this time of COVID-19 because he is old. He doesn’t deserve to and spend his life at prison,” says another resident.
Others say they were able to educate their children with assistance from the Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma Foundation.
“Zuma helped our children through education, during Christmas he would celebrate with us and give us some food parcels. We hope that he will come back alive,” adds another community member.
Another resident says: “We are disappointed by the arrest of an elderly person. He was very helpful to us as Nkandla residents, he helped our children through his bursary. My child also benefited from his bursary.”
Calm outside former president’s home in Nkandla:
Meanwhile, Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola, says Zuma will be eligible for parole after serving almost four months.
Lamola says Zuma is in good spirits and is being housed in the hospitals section while he undergoes an immediate assessment.
The minister’s media briefing on Correctional Services processes: