Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s appeal to have his 15-month jail term for failing to attend a corruption investigation overturned was denied by the country’s highest court.
The sentence was handed down in June after Zuma failed to testify at an inquiry probing corruption during his nine-year rule, seen as a test of post-apartheid South Africa’s ability to enforce the rule of law, particularly against powerful politicians.
Zuma, recuperating in hospital after undergoing surgery for an undisclosed illness, asked the court in July to revoke its sentence for contempt arguing it was excessive, and that jail would endanger his health and life. In a majority decision on Friday, the Constitutional Court rejected his arguments.
“The application for rescission is dismissed,” Justice Sisi Khampepe said as she read the majority decision, which included an order for Zuma to pay costs.
It was the latest legal setback for the 79-year-old anti-apartheid veteran from the ruling African National Congress, whose presidency between 2009 and 2018 was marred by widespread allegations of corruption and malfeasance. He denies wrongdoing.
“Obviously the foundation is disappointed with this judgment,”Mzwanele Manyi, spokesman for the JG Zuma Foundation, said in response.
Zuma’s jailing on July 7, after handing himself over to police at the last minute, led to violent riots, looting, and vandalism in South Africa, killing more than 300 people and costing businesses billions of South African rand.