Former president Jacob Zuma, as it turns out, is not above the rule of law.
In the 11th hour of a tight deadline, the 79-year-old surrendered his freedom and was whisked away to a Nkandla correctional services facility by a presidential motorcade.
Watch: Jacob Zuma sent to prison
Tensions were high KwaNxamalala, on the homelands of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), on Wednesday. Law enforcement units were spread out at strategic points around the former president’s compound with water tanks and armed public order police at the ready for any inkling of resistance.
Zuma’s son, Edward, was at the centre of the human barrier that blocked access to the Nkandla estate. In his own words, no man dressed in police uniform would leave with his father without bloodshed.
However, after intense negotiations with his handlers, Zuma, left with no other alternative, handed himself over to authorities and this video clip shows the 79-year-old seated in the back of a black private security vehicle, on his way to jail.
It looks like I got the money shot! 21 seconds in, Jacob Zuma in the back seat of the BMW X5 being driven to prison. pic.twitter.com/10vrE4fYkW— Nomsa Maseko (@nomsa_maseko) July 7, 2021
That’s not him. It’s the car after the Jeep. Check this freeze frame. pic.twitter.com/TwcvTRzAZP— Nomsa Maseko (@nomsa_maseko) July 8, 2021
So, what happens now?
By now, the former president would have been booked and changed into orange overalls at a high-security prison, in Nkandla.
From what we understand, Zuma will spend at least two days in jail, pending the outcome of his stay of prosecution challenge. This, the Pietermaritzburg High Court, will make a ruling on, on Friday.
If the court determines that it, indeed, does not have jurisdiction to overturn a Constitutional Court judgment, the former president could spend the weekend behind bars.
The second opportunity for Zuma’s release will come next week when the apex court entertains his rescission application. In this instance, the former president wants the ConCourt to rescind its arrest order and grant him clemency.
Many factors will play into the decision Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo will make, including the political status of Zuma and the implications attached to a man as influential as he is, being cast out in prison for 15 months.
Of course, the law is prescribed to serve no one’s personal interests. Therefore, if the apex court upholds its order, Zuma may not see the light of day until he’s served a good portion of his sentence.
At this time, neither the Jacob Zuma Foundation nor his handlers have issued concrete updates on the situation. Instead, we’ve been informed that Zuma’s staunch spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi has taken leave from engaging with the media, “to reflect on the tragedy that has just happened.”