Former South African President Jacob Zuma was ordered Tuesday to 15 months in prison for defying a court order to appear before a corruption inquiry looking into scandals during his nine years in office.
The corruption investigation is looking at various scandals that occurred during Zuma’s presidency between 2009 and 2018. He was under orders to appear and cooperate with the inquiry, but the Constitutional Court on Tuesday found him guilty of contempt.
Zuma was ordered to appear before the corruption inquiry, which is led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. He not only failed to show up to testify but also ignored the court’s contempt proceedings entirely.
Zuma has five days to surrender or face arrest.
Tuesday’s order marked the first time a former South African president has been sentenced to prison.
Zuma has pleaded not guilty to corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering charges and has said the inquiry is politically motivated.
An ally of former President Nelson Mandela, Zuma was one of the dominant figures in the African National Congress party since the apartheid era ended in 1994. He was forced out of office by the ANC in 2018 and charged with multiple counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering stemming from an arms deal in 1999 when he was South Africa’s deputy president.
The accusations say the deal included payments to the ANC, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and a foundation associated with Mandela’s wife.
An arrest warrant for Zuma was issued last year after he again failed to show up for a court hearing.