South Africa top court rejects ex-president Zuma’s bid to overturn 15-month jail sentence

South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma’s plea to overturn his 15-month prison sentence handed to him after failing to attend a corruption hearing has been rejected by the country’s top court.

South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled in a majority on Friday and rejected Zuma’s request to annul his jail time, which the disgraced former leader had argued was excessive and that Covid-19 could pose serious risks to his health, and even life, in July.

The 79-year-old anti-apartheid veteran was released on medical parole earlier this month after the country’s Department of Correctional Services (DCS) evaluated a report on Zuma’s health. The placement meant that he will instead serve his remaining jail time on a community corrections course, “whereby he must comply with a specific set of conditions and will be subjected to supervision until his sentence expires,” the DCS stated.

In August, Zuma underwent an unspecified surgery away from the Escourt prison he was being kept in. The politician is slated to undergo more surgeries in the future.

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FILE PHOTO. Former South African President Jacob Zuma.
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Zuma handed himself in to police on July 7 and began serving his 15-month jail term for contempt of court after failing to give evidence at an inquiry concerning high-level corruption during his nine years in office.

His jailing, combined with soaring unemployment and poor economic conditions, spurred some of the worst riots seen in South Africa, especially in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, where the Army was called in to deal with the unrest. More than 300 people died during the turbulent period and some 3,400 people were arrested.

The current president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, condemned the riots, describing them as “opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft.”

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