Who’d be a Police Minister, eh? Bheki Cele is currently having to deal with the mother of all enforcement nightmares, as a human shield of civilians continues to protect a stubborn former president who is set for the slammer. However, the top cop can’t sit on his hands for much longer – because he may land HIMSELF in some legal trouble.

‘Send Jacob Zuma to jail, or break the law yourself’ – warning for Bheki Cele

Jacob Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison last week. You may or may not have heard about it… nonetheless, he was given a five-day deadline to hand himself over. That expired on Sunday, but another window came into play: With Msholozi ignoring the warning from the judiciary, Cele and SAPS have been told to spring into action.

Law enforcement officials have been given until midnight on Wednesday 7 July to bring Zuma in for processing. If he is not arrested by this date, then the Minister of Police ‘would be held in contempt of court’. That’s according to Pierre de Vos. In his latest blog post, the Constitutional law explains that the stakes have also been raised for Mr. Cele.

“Section 18 of the Superior Courts Act (which came into effect in 2013) specifically excludes any rescission applications from the general rule that an appeal automatically suspends a court order.”

“This means that unless Mr. Zuma’s application to the High Court to stay the order is successful, the Minister of Police and the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service would be in contempt of the Constitutional Court order if they did not take all necessary steps to have Mr. Zuma arrested by Wednesday.” | Pierre de Vos

Will Jacob Zuma avoid his jail sentence?

The Zuma camp is also adamant that its last-minute appeals to the courts – split between a rescission order in ConCourt and a ‘stay application’ in Pietermaritzburg – will be enough to keep uBaba out of jail. However, de Vos sees very little weight behind their argument, and believes that the 79-year-old is being fed bad advice by his lawyers.

“A rescission order will not be granted on the basis that the court misinterpreted or misapplied the law, or failed to consider the possible impact of the order on the affected party’s rights. Rescission is for the correction of a mistake, not to substitute the court’s original view about the law with one preferred by the affected party.”

“Zuma argues that the order should be rescinded because it was erroneously granted (as provided for by rule 42(1)(a)) because Zuma was badly advised by his lawyers and material facts were not before the court because he did not participate in the proceedings. However, the case law appears to be against Mr. Zuma on this point.”

Bheki Cele ‘should have full support of the law’

De Vos concluded his post by explaining that an individual CAN be jailed for contempt of court in a civil matter, if the circumstances are extraordinary. According to him, the Zuma case absolutely fits this particular bill

“The claim that our law does not allow a court to punish a contemnor with a prison sentence in civil proceedings is wrong. ConCourt considered its constitutionality and found that it was permitted in exceptional circumstances. It is therefore not clear on what basis Zuma now claims the majority of the Constitutional Court acted unconstitutionally.”

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Presh JM Reporter

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