Human rights groups on Thursday celebrated the imprisonment of former South African president Jacob Zuma who turned himself in Wednesday evening for defying a court order to testify in front of a commission investigating allegations of corruption during his time in office.
Zuma is currently being held in the Estcourt Correctional Center in the KwaZulu-Natal province, according to The Associated Press. He is expected to serve a 15-month sentence and will be eligible for parole after serving a quarter of his sentence.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said it was pleased that Zuma was imprisoned but criticized him for failing “to abide by the deadline set by the Constitutional Court, thus continuing a pattern of disregard for the rule of law and for our constitutional democracy,” AP reported.
Amnesty International also celebrated Zuma's surrender, with Amnesty South Africa executive director Shenilla Mohamed stating, “Due process must be allowed to take its course and the Constitution and the law upheld."
"Former President Zuma handing himself over goes a long way in showing that no one is above the law in South Africa,” Mohamed continued.
Zuma, who served from 2009 to 2018, is accused of committing a multitude of crimes including accepting 500,000 rand — $34,000 — from French arms company Thales in exchange for protection against an investigation into a $2 billion deal.
Zuma pleaded not guilty to the charges, calling the allegations a political witch hunt.
A South African court has agreed to hear an appeal from Zuma for his jail sentence. The hearing for the challenge will be held on July 12.