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01.03.2021 South Africa

Top South Africa court sets date for Zuma contempt case

By AFP
Former South African President Jacob Zuma (C) claims the commission investigating graft during his tenure is biased.  By Guillem Sartorio (AFP/File)
LISTEN MAR 1, 2021
Former South African President Jacob Zuma (C) claims the commission investigating graft during his tenure is biased. By Guillem Sartorio (AFP/File)

South Africa's top court said Monday it will hear a contempt case against beleaguered ex-president Jacob Zuma on March 25 after he defied its order to testify in a corruption hearing.

Zuma, accused of enabling runaway graft during his tenure in office, defied a Constitutional Court order to testify before a panel investigating graft allegations.

The commission last week asked the court to jail Zuma for two years after the 78-year-old "intentionally and unlawfully failed to appear" last month or to supply affidavits.

Zuma must file answering affidavits, if any, by March 8, the court said in a statement.

Meanwhile the contempt hearing itself "will take place on a virtual platform," it said.

A defiant Zuma has played cat-and-mouse with the panel investigating the plunder of state coffers during his rule, claiming bias on the part of its chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The former leader testified only once in July 2019 before staging a walkout days later.

On January 28, the Constitutional Court ordered him to appear before the commission and ruled he had no right to remain silent during the proceedings.

The court said his snubs amounted to "a direct breach of the law".

But Zuma has pushed back, alleging political interference in the judiciary, and vowed not to appear before the commission.

He added that he did not fear being arrested, convicted or jailed.

Zuma, who came to power in 2009, was forced to resign in 2018 over graft scandals involving an Indian business family, the Guptas -- who won lucrative contracts with state companies and were allegedly even able to choose cabinet ministers.

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