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South African top court to rule Tuesday on Zuma defiance

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Former South African president Jacob Zuma, who is facing fraud and corruption charges, speaks after his appearance in the High Court, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, May 26, 2021. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

South Africa’s top court said it would rule on Tuesday whether ex-president Jacob Zuma is guilty of contempt of court for refusing to appear before a graft panel.

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Zuma, who was forced to step down in 2018 over corruption scandals, has snubbed an order by the Constitutional Court in January to testify before investigators.

The commission went to court seeking to have Zuma jailed for two years for defying the order.

Judgement in the case which was heard in March, “will be delivered tomorrow,” the Court announced on Monday.

Zuma, 79, is accused of enabling the plunder of state coffers during his nearly nine-year stay in office.

It was Zuma himself, under pressure over the scandal, who set up the inquiry shortly before he was ousted by the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

But he only testified once, in July 2019, before staging a walkout days later and accusing the commission’s chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, of bias.

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He has since ignored several invitations to reappear, citing medical reasons and preparations for another corruption trial.

He presented himself again briefly in November but left before questioning — prompting an exasperated Zondo to ask the Constitutional Court to intervene.

He has also refused to participate in contempt of court proceedings, and instead wrote a scathing letter to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng describing an “atmosphere of judicial hostility” and “humiliation”.

Most of the transgressions investigated by the commission involve three brothers from a wealthy Indian business family, the Guptas, who won lucrative government contracts and were allegedly even able to choose cabinet ministers.

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Jacob ZumaSouth Africa
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