Former South African President Jacob Zuma says he is appealing a prison sentence and demanding justice as hundreds of supporters continue their solidarity with the former leader.
The 79-year old told hundreds of his supporters that sending him to jail during the height of a pandemic was the same as sentencing him to death.
Zuma’s supporters including some who travelled more than 400 kilometres, gathered outside Zuma’s rural home in the KwaZulu-Natal province and vowed to prevent attempts to arrest him.
They sang songs praising Zuma as a hero of the 1980s struggle against white minority rule.
Last week, South Africa’s top court slapped a 15-month jail time on the former president for defying a court order to testify before a graft commission.
“I’m not asking for sympathy, but justice. My age and health condition and any other mitigating circumstances were not considered when the imprisonment was decided,” the former President told his supporters on Sunday.
Several witnesses, including former cabinet ministers and top executives of state-owned corporations, have testified of Zuma’s wrongdoing, including allowing his associates, the Gupta family, to influence his cabinet appointments and lucrative state contracts.
Zuma’s deadline to turn himself in as ordered by the Constitutional Court expired Sunday. Now, he could likely face a possible arrest.
“Sending me to jail during the height of a pandemic at my age is the same as sentencing me to death”, Zuma added.
Top officials of the ANC party have gone to KwaZulu-Natal to try to reduce tensions and to encourage Zuma to comply with the court orders and avoid any violent confrontations.
Zuma has launched several court actions to avoid imprisonment. On Friday, he filed an application with the Constitutional Court to rescind his sentence, which the court will hear on July 12.
On Tuesday, Zuma will apply for an interdict to stop the police from arresting him, his foundation announced.