The question of whether the Pietermaritzburg High Court has jurisdiction to grant a stay of execution of the order for former President Jacob Zuma to be arrested was nothing but a “red herring”.
This was how the former president’s advocate, Dali Mpofu, launched his argument for Zuma’s application for an interdict to prevent his arrest before Judge Bhekisisa Mnguni in the high court on Tuesday. The matter is being heard virtually due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
This comes comes after the Constitutional Court found Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months in jail. The court ruled last week that Zuma hand himself over to the police to begin serving his sentence, failing which the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, and the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services,Ronald Lamola were ordered take the “legal steps”necessary to incarnate him. The Zondo Commission and the Helen Suzman Foundation have opposed Zuma’s application for the interdict, a move Mpofu clearly took an affront to as he opened his argument before the court.
“These parties have no business as far as the execution of the order is concerned…they are really here as uninvited guests,”Mpofu said.
Mpofu argued that the Pietermartizburg High Court had jurisdiction to suspend the order for Jacob Zuma’s arrest on five grounds, including that section 172 of the Constitution empowered him to do so and that the arrest would be affected within the court’s jurisdiction. He said Zuma would be 80 years old at his next birthday and that he was not a flight risk.
“A high court in this country has inherent jurisdiction and national jurisdiction to enforce court orders, even of other courts, of other provinces, even of other tribunals, such as arbitration and even something that is to be done in a foreign jurisdiction,”Mpofu argued.
“But in the unique circumstances of an interdict it is one of the unique situations where the court would be able to grant an interdict against someone who has fled the country,”he said.
He added that a High Court also had the power to decide on “any constitutional matter” and that “there can be no doubt that what we dealing with is a constitutional mater in that it involves the rights of an appellant not to be detained without trial,”Mpofu said.
The hearing continues.