Former president Jacob Zuma’s children have called for his unconditional release from prison, insisting that their father respected the laws of the country.
In a statement released on Thursday, Zuma’s children Edward, Duduzane and Duduzile
appeared to distance themselves from the recent looting and vandalism triggered by protests against their father’s incarceration for contempt of court.
“We will not accept when people go to extremes because we never sent anyone to do such, however we want Zuma to be released with conditions,” they said. “All our father is seeking is justice.”
Zuma, who still enjoys a lot of support in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment for contempt after he defied a Constitutional Court order to appear before the Zondo commission probing state capture during the years he was president.
His imprisonment sparked a wave of unrest which President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government has now classified as an attempted insurrection. The looting and arson attacks are said to have cost the KwaZulu-Natal economy alone more than R20-billion and placed more than 150 000 jobs in the province at risk.
Around 40 000 formal businesses in the province were also affected in the week of violence, which also negatively impacted more than 50 000 informal traders, the vast majority of whom were not insured.
On Thursday, Zuma’s children vowed to continue pushing for his release, saying they would “fight this unjust action until our calls are heard by the law enforcement officer”.
The Zuma family also said it defended and supported Ngizwe Mchunu, a staunch supporter of their father accused of being one of the instigators of the violence, and believed he had been wrongfully jailed. Mchunu was denied bail earlier this week.
“People must stand up and defend all of us,” the Zuma children wrote.
They said they had long ago “recognised and accepted that we share our father with the people of South Africa, which is his first family, tied together by the historical fight against any form of injustice perpetrated against this greater family”.
“We have always understood and still do, that any form of injustice, no matter where and how it manifests itself, will always invoke him, to come forward and perform his supreme duty to his first family, the people of South Africa, no matter how heavy the price,” they added.
South Africa’s constitution is a magnificent document of which Jacob Zuma as a pan-Africanist was proud, his children said.
“This magnificent document reaffirms that dignity is an objective that an individual must pursue. It further reaffirms one of the key pillars of the Freedom Charter, that the people shall govern.”
“We therefore cannot take away the people’s rights as enshrined in this magnificent document, as long as everything and everyone is acting within the confines of the law, including those who are supposed to administer and dispense the law,” they added, in apparent reference to the initial protests against their father’s arrest.