The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, although grabbing media attention in its stand-off with former President Jacob Zuma by asking the Constitutional Court to jail him for two years for contempt following his defiance of its order instructing him to appear before the commission, has nevertheless offered him a way out.

Buried in the detail of the commission’s application is a footnote, which a Daily Maverick report says indicates the commission is still willing to forgive Zuma for his multiple acts of defiance, and will shuffle its tight timetable to accommodate the former head of state, who, by evidence leader Advocate Paul Pretorius’ admission, has been implicated in questionable acts by 40 witnesses.

According to News24, inquiry secretary Professor Itumeleng Mosala stated that, although the commission wanted Zuma to be sentenced to two years behind bars for multiple acts of contempt, he also suggested that the court may suspend that sentence, ‘... on condition that Mr Zuma appears and gives evidence’.

Zuma would also need to submit two affidavits that Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo ordered him to provide to the inquiry in relation to his involvement in the affairs of Eskom and Prasa.

‘For such relief to be possible and effective, a special arrangement would need to be made to hear Mr Zuma’s evidence before 31 March 2021,’ Mosala said.

Shortly after the Constitutional Court gave its unanimous judgment against him, Zuma publicly stated that he would defy the ruling for him to appear and answer questions about his nine years in office just as he had defied the unjust apartheid government – and insisted he was, ‘... prepared to go to jail’.

In its notice of motion, the commission asks that Zuma ‘is sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two years’ for being ‘guilty of contempt of court’ for not appearing before the commission between 15 and 19 February.

It further states, according to the DM report, that Zuma ‘intentionally and unlawfully failed to appear before the judicial commission of inquiry… on 15 to 19 February 2021 in compliance with summons issued… on 30 November 2020’, which was affirmed by the Constitutional Court on 28 January 2021.

Also, Zuma had ‘intentionally and unlawfully failed or refused to furnish the commission with affidavits in compliance with the directives issued by the… commission’.

The commission noted it had cited Minister of Police Bheki Cele and National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole as respondents to ‘give effect to the order’.

Full Daily Maverick report

Notice of Motion

Full News24 report