Zuma: I’m not afraid of jail

2008-08-05 00:00

African National Congress president Jacob Zuma says he has not ruled out the possibility that he might go to jail and added that he will serve any jail term should he be convicted.

“In 1963, while fighting for freedom that we now enjoy, I was wrongly charged, convicted and imprisoned for 10 years by a judge. We might see a repeat of that situation as they can still wrongly convict me even though I [know I] am innocent,” Zuma told supporters who gathered to hear him speak at Pietermaritzburg’s Freedom Square after his court appearance yesterday.

He told the crowds that if ever he is sentenced, he will serve the jail term, declaring that he is “not afraid of anything”.

Zuma also lambasted his critics who he says have accused him of trying to delay the trial by bringing numerous applications to question the legality of some aspects of the investigations.

“They say I am the one who is delaying my standing trial when I am the one who has been subjected to investigations for such a long time without being charged.

“Why is there a rush now? Why are people so eager to see me behind bars now?” he asked.

He said that he should be allowed to use his Constitutional rights in his defence. “Let me not be intimidated when I am using my rights.”

Zuma also warned of the possibility that his trial could be lengthy.

“There is a very strong possibility that the trial will be a lengthy one because I will call witnesses, and it is only then that the truth will come out,” he said to loud cheers from the crowd, some of whom shouted President Thabo Mbeki’s name.

Zuma’s defence has indicated it might call Mbeki as a witness should Zuma stand trial.

While Zuma said he would go to jail if convicted, the Young Communist League said its members will do anything in their power to ensure that does not happen. “If he is innocent in our eyes, no one dares see him as guilty,” Buti Manamela, national secretary, told the gathering.

He continued: “The Human Rights Commission has taken out words such as ‘kill’ and others from the dictionary. However the youth know what to do and will do exactly that. We will not stand by when Zuma is taken to jail.”

The sentiments were echoed by ANCYL president, Julius “Bombshell” Malema. “[Chief Justice] Pius Langa and his people will never have our president. Nobody will arrest Zuma. Before you go to him, you must first kill the youth of this country,” Malema said.

SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande warned that a Zuma court trial will “push the country to the brink”.

“This is a political trial and political trials cannot be fought out in court but can only be fought out politically. We have a duty not to take our country to the brink,” he said.

Click here for the video of Zuma in action

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