Bheki Cele calls off Jacob Zuma arrest
Bheki Cele wants the courts to conclude Zuma’s challenge before he can action the arrest warrant. But, is this legally sound?
Police Minister has officially made it clear that he has no intention of actioning the Constitutional Court’s order to arrest former president Jacob Zuma.
In a statement released by the office of the State Attorney in Pretoria, on Tuesday, Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was informed that neither Cele nor police commissioner Khehla Sitole was prepared to execute the arrest warrant on Zuma.
Bheki Cele fails to execute Jacob Zuma arrest
This, the State Attorney said, was a decision taken in light of the former president’s “urgent application in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in which he among others seek the stay of his commital pending the outcome of an application for reconsideration and rescission of orders and judgment finding him guilty of contempt of court and sentence.”
According to these new developments, Cele and Sitole have opted to disregard the active arrest warrant, issued by the highest court on the land, and to allow Zuma enough room to challenge the contempt charge.
“It is in our clients’ view that the pending litigation has a direct impact on the action which they should take in terms of the Court Order on the basis that the very Court Order has become the subject of litigation in both Courts,” the State Attorney explained.
Is Cele following the law or is it a political play?
Zuma was given a total of five days to hand himself over to the Nkandla police station. On deadline day, which was this past Sunday, the former president actively defied the arrest order, telling hundreds of his supporters who had travelled from far out to show support that he had no intention to abide by a court tainted by politics.
On the previous day, the former president’s legal team had lodged an appeal with the ConCourt to challenge the arrest warrant which was, in their view, issued without a trial and thus was not constitutional.
The High Court was also approached to seek a permanent stay in the court order. These brazen challenges of the highest court on the land are certainly unprecedented, and the State Attorney recognised this.
“Our clients are fully aware that the litigation steps taken by Mr Zuma cannot be categorised as appeal processes which in usual cases would have an effect of suspending the operation of the court order,” the statement read.
Knowing full and well that their actions were not guided by any legal principle, Cele and Sitole still opted to give Zuma time to execute his challenge.
Only Zondo has the final say on how this process will turn out. Will he allow Cele and Sitole to disregard their duties as enforcers of the rule of law? At the time this article was published, the chairperson of the State Capture Inquiry had not issued a response.