Former South African President Jacob Zuma turns himself in to start 15-month sentence

Former South African President Jacob Zuma turns himself in to start 15-month sentence
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Former South African President Jacob Zuma turned himself in to police on Wednesday to start his 15-month prison sentence on a charge of contempt of court, after the country’s Constitutional Court said he was guilty of missing a court date in February.

Reuters reported that the 79-year-old turned himself in after he was sentenced last week for missing a February court date, which was part of a corruption investigation of his time in office.

Zuma served as president between 2009 and 2018 and was accused of committing a number of crimes while leading the country.

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The investigation into the February trial started after Zuma and members of his administration were said to have had illegal contact with three wealthy businessmen, CNBC reported.

Zuma and the businessmen, however, have all denied the claims against them.

The former president had five days after his sentence was announced to turn himself in, or else the police would act on orders to arrest him, Reuters reported.

Minutes before the midnight deadline, however, he turned himself in, according to The Associated Press.

“President Zuma has decided to comply with the incarceration order," the former president’s foundation said, according to Reuters.

The South African Constitutional Court, however, has agreed to hear Zuma’s challenge to the jail sentence.

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It is slated to hear the former president’s challenge on July 12. Zuma argued that the sentence is excessive and could put him at risk for contracting COVID-19.

Zuma has contended that he is the victim of a political witch hunt, and that Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who is leading the corruption investigation, is biased against him, Reuters reported.

Zuma is also under investigation for a $2 billion arms deal he made in 1999 when he was serving as deputy president, according to Reuters. He has denied the charges.