Former South African president Zuma surrenders to police & heads to jail after tense standoff over 15mo prison term

South African police have confirmed that former president Jacob Zuma has turned himself in. Sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court, his initial refusal sparked a standoff his son said could’ve led to civil war.

Zuma was in police custody late on Wednesday evening, police spokesperson Lirandzu Themba told reporters. The JG Zuma Foundation confirmed this in a tweet shortly before midnight local time, saying Zuma “has decided to comply with the incarceration order” and was on his way to a prison in KwaZulu-Natal.

On June 29, the Constitutional Court of South Africa ordered Zuma to turn himself in to police within five days, to serve a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court. The Zulu politician had refused to appear before a commission and answer questions about his alleged involvement in corruption during his presidency, from 2009 to 2018.

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Thousands of Zuma’s supporters flocked to his hometown of Nkandla, some armed, vowing not to give him up. Edwardy Zuma, one of his many children, even tweeted that the authorities will try and arrest his father “if they want [to] experience a civil war” and “they must kill me first” in any event.

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South African president Jacob Zuma poses for a portrait on July 3, 2012 in Pretoria, South Africa. © Theana Breugem/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images
The row raging over a corrupt former president’s jailing shows that South Africa is heading down a sad and familiar path

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