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MEDIA STATEMENT: The Constitutional Court’s Decision on Former President Zuma is of Great Significance

30 June 2021

ATT: Editors and Reporters

The South African Human Rights Commission (the SAHRC or the Commission) welcomes the decision of the Constitutional Court handed down by Acting Chief Justice Sisi Khampepe on Tuesday morning, 29 June 2021.

The Constitutional Court has sentenced former President Jacob Zuma to 15 months imprisonment, as he was found to be in contempt of court when he failed to appear and participate at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture. The Former President has been ordered to submit himself to Nkandla Police Station or the Johannesburg Central Police Station in five days.

For the SAHRC as the custodian of the Bill of Rights and an institution supporting constitutional democracy, this is a watershed judgement as it strengthens our democracy by demonstrating that no person, not even a former Head of State, is above the law and that the principle that everyone is equal before the law holds true in our country. For the Commission to be truly effective in the execution of its constitutional mandate set out in section 184 in protecting, promoting as well as monitoring and assessing the observance of human rights, the decisions of the courts need to be respected by everyone, at all times.

Respect for the rule of law and court decisions is crucial for the protection and promotion of human rights. There is a constitutional obligation in terms of section 165 resting on all of us to assist and protect the courts to ensure their independence, dignity and effectiveness.

The Commission hopes that this seminal judgement of the Constitutional Court sends a clear message throughout South Africa that contempt of court will not be tolerated, as it undermines the independence and authority of our courts and ultimately constitutional democracy itself.

In order for our constitutional democracy to remain functional, hold the Constitution supreme and deliver on the rights we are all guaranteed, the judiciary needs to remain independent, unencumbered in its work and have its decisions respected.


Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission
Gushwell Brooks – Communications Co-ordinator Tel: 082 645 8573 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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