Former South African President Jacob Zuma handed himself over to police late Wednesday, authorities said, to begin a 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court.
The move ended days of intense speculation over whether the police and former President would comply with the country’s Constitutional Court for Zuma’s arrest and imprisonment.
Zuma, who served as South Africa’s President from 2009 to 2018, had been given until July 4 to hand himself over to police. If he failed to show, the police were given until the end of Wednesday to arrest the 79-year-old and bring him in.
Just before the clock wound down on the midnight deadline, Zuma was admitted to the Estcourt Correctional Center near his home in KwaZulu-Natal province, according to the Department of Correctional Services.
“Former President of South Africa, Mr. Jacob Zuma was on the July 7, 2021, placed in the custody of the South African Police Service, in compliance with the Constitutional Court judgment,” said Police Ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said in a statement.
Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court and handed a 15-month jail term on June 29, a landmark move in the country’s long-running corruption saga.
The order stemmed from Zuma’s refusal to appear at an anti-corruption commission to answer questions about his alleged involvement in corruption during his time as president.
Zuma has repeatedly denied the long running allegations of corruption against him.
It is a highly symbolic moment that the former President and key figure of the African National Congress (ANC), who spent ten years in prison with anti-apartheid hero and former President Nelson Mandela, could spend significant time in prison.
His incarceration, however, could be short lived.
On Friday, a High Court judge will rule whether police should have waited to bring him in until after a Constitutional Court hearing, due to take place on July 12, where his lawyers will argue mitigating circumstances in his sentence.