Zuma wants to go to jail. Perhaps

Tuesday.

It’s day 460 of the Covid-19 lockdown.

I’d expected a mass of health workers, teachers and over 60s to be lined up, waiting for their jabs, at the vaccine centre at Durban’s St Augustine’s Hospital. 

Instead, there’s more staff than punters in the parking lot that’s been converted into a vaccine centre. 

Security guards, admin staff and nurses abound, but there’s a distinct lack of people turning up for their dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The security staff on duty are clearly well into the whole social distance thing. They wave me in before I get anywhere near them with my green ID book and the SMS that landed from the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) on Saturday night telling me to present myself for a jab.

I’d registered on the EVDS when it first opened. 

For a fair part of my life, I consumed gear sourced from cats with names like Big Man, Bojo and Skhuva, so I’m prepared to take my chances with the vaccine.

I’d given up hope of getting a jab before July 15, when needling starts for my age group, so the SMS on Saturday night telling me to report on Tuesday was a bit of a surprise. 

It also sparked a bit of a moral dilemma. I’m under 60 and neither a teacher nor a health worker, so was I even meant to have been getting the SMS?

The duty nurse puts the debate to rest — quickly — and gives me the heave.

July 15 it is.

Like most of my fellow South Africans, I’d been expecting the constitutional court to find former president Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court for refusing to obey its order that he go back to the Zondo commission to answer to allegations that he orchestrated the capture of our state.

The former head of state not only refused to abide by the court’s earlier order, but also refused to make any representations with regard to the matter, while accusing the court, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and the judiciary in general of being part of a plot to get him.

Zuma had also made it crystal clear that no matter what happened, there was no way he was going back to take the stand before Zondo, so he hadn’t left the court with any other option but to hit him with a punitive jail sentence.

But hearing Justice Sisi Khampepe sentence the 79-year-old Nxamalala to 15 months in jail — no fine, suspended sentence, no house arrest, no chance to say sorry and go answer for his actions — still shook me.

That said, by the time Khampepe had wrapped up, my mind was already in overdrive. 

Will Zuma abide by the court ruling and hand himself in at the police station around the corner from his home in Nxamalala village? Will he drag it out to the last minute, arriving at one second to midnight with an entourage of preachers and Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association guard of honour? 

Or will he pull out the 2005 handbook, refuse to play ball and take us to the brink of a war?

Perhaps Zuma wanted the court to lock him up. 

With Zuma as a guest of the state for the next three to six months, there’s not really much chance of him appearing before Zondo and saying something that could get him 15 years — the minimum sentence for corruption — for his relationship with the Gupta brothers. 

There’s also not much chance of Zuma’s corruption trial for the arms deal in Pietermaritzburg — set down for this month — going ahead while he’s in jail. 

Zuma’s legal team is new and needs time to consult with him and get up to speed with the 15-year-old case, none of which can happen if he’s locked up in a jail cell.

The questions don’t stop there.

When uBaba goes to jail, do the bodyguards go with him? After all, the presidential handbook says Zuma’s pension and benefits will be paid while the former president is inside, so why not the bodyguard detail?

Do the bodyguards also wear orange garb, so that they blend in with the general population, or do they carry on with their black suits or those great-white-hunter vests they use when they’re with the timer in the field?

Perhaps Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi will smuggle himself inside with the Patron, as Zuma is known to the foundation faithful, when he starts to pull his time; fire off statements in the middle of the night, all denunciations and threats of insurrection, while the warders are sleeping, to keep the pot boiling until the old man gets out again. 

Perhaps.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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