Rule of law 1, Zuma 0

Former president Jacob Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court. File photo.
Former president Jacob Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court. File photo.
Image: Phill Magakoe/REUTERS

And just like that, without a drop of blood being shed, former president Jacob Zuma was whisked off to the Estcourt correctional facility to begin his 15-month sentence for contempt of court.

Though police feared violence, a “second Marikana” police minister Bheki Cele called it — as Zuma supporters vowed to guard his compound and not allow any law enforcement in — a carefully orchestrated arrest was enacted just before midnight on Wednesday. 

After a week of tension, with a seemingly unfazed Zuma confident that his legal team would succeed in buying him more time, he was forced to accept the outcome.

An unprecedented moment in SA, it was ultimately the rule of law that came out shining as it showed that even those at the very top are not above the law.

He is a man who has over the years, even during his presidency, shown indifference to the law and to the notion of accountability and integrity, and it was a powerful and important moment for SA’s democracy.

Even if Zuma succeeds in getting a short stint in prison — or what some fear will be a “cushy” cell with preferential treatment — it still does not take away from the significance of the moment in our young democracy.

Though Zuma is serving time for contempt of court — and not any of the fraud and corruption charges that he still has to answer to — his insolent attitude towards the state capture commission and even the ConCourt was a mark of his character over the years.

As a man who was constantly shielded by either the ANC or the law enforcement agencies while he was at the helm as president, it was no doubt unfathomable to him and those close to him that he would eventually have to enter that jail cell on his own.

But the rule of law won, justice prevailed, and accountability has a new face.

It is something to behold.

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