Jacob Zuma’s refusal to appear before commission for 3rd time sets ‘bad precedent,’ says Deputy Chief Justice

A judge chairing a commission of inquiry probing corruption in South Africa said he will seek to have former President Jacob Zuma charged with contempt of court.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo made the comment Monday after Zuma, 78, refused again to appear before the commission to respond to corruption allegations against him.

Zondo said Zuma’s refusal to appear before the commission for a third time sets a bad precedent and he will ask the constitutional court to sentence the ex-leader for contempt of court.

“The commission has taken note that in this type of situation, the law makes provision that it may institute contempt of court proceedings. The commission will do so,” Zondo said.

Zuma accuses Zondo of being biased against him and he had asked the judge to recuse himself from the hearing. But the judge declined to do so, saying he was doing his job without bias.

The Constitutional Court ruled last month that Zuma is obliged to appear before the commission.

Dozens of witnesses have implicated Zuma in corruption allegations, including that he allegedly helped the then influential Indian Gupta family get lucrative government contracts, some of which they never completed. But Zuma and the Guptas denied the allegations.

Zondo said the allegations made against Zuma by dozens of witnesses are now being treated as evidence because they were given under oath and some of the witnesses have been subjected to cross-examination.

The Gupta family is headed by three brothers who settled in South Africa two decades ago but have since left the country.