Former President Jacob Zuma’s alleged contempt of court and his defiance to appear before the State Capture Commission are two distinct separate matters. That is according to Constitutional Court expert Pierre De Vos.
The Constitutional Court will hear the application by the State Capture Commission against Zuma on 25 March. The commission went back to the court to ask for Zuma’s imprisonment for defying the order by the court that he must appear before the commission if a valid summons is issued.
This follows Zuma’s refusal to appear before the Zondo Commission last month. De Vos says the matter before the Constitutional Court is about Zuma’s alleged disregard of the Constitutional Court order directing him to appear before the Zondo Commission.
He says this court process should not be confused with Zuma’s alleged breaching of the Commission’s Act.
“Legally there are two ways in which the former President’s various refusal to testify and to obey the summons can be dealt with. One, the former President can be prosecuted. If the summons to appear and testify were issued by the court and he refused then there is contempt of court. That is very different from breaching the Commission’s Act. This is a contempt of court, not for not appearing but for not respecting the court order that ordered him to appear.”
De Vos says there is still a pending complaint lodged by the Zondo Commission with the police against Zuma for breaching the Commission’s Act. This was after the former President refused to appear at the commission, arguing among other things that there was still a pending application for a court to review Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s dismissal of an application to recuse himself.
“The former president can be prosecuted by the Prosecuting Authority in terms of the Commission’s Act. President Zuma is still being investigated for breaching that section of the Commission’s Act and if he is found to have done so, he will be prosecuted for that. We know there was a complaint laid by the commission but that is very separate and it will continue to be separate from the process of contempt of the court order.”
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo delivers judgment on the application to recuse himself:
Recently the JG Zuma Foundation accused the commission of trying to bend laws in its pursuit to find Zuma guilty by hook or crook, including predicting the sentence that should be imposed on the former President. De Vos says it is unusual for the commission to tell the court what sentence to impose.
“It is not for the commission to tell the court what sentence to impose; it is for the court to do so. They will decide what is appropriate, they can make a prison sentence suspended on the condition that Zuma testifies or is fined. So that is the Constitutional Court that can make that decision based on arguments and evidence before them.”
On Monday the respondents may file answering affidavits if they decide to do so. Thereafter, on Friday the commission would file responding papers.
The matter is scheduled to be argued in the Constitutional Court on 25 March.