We're in no rush to arrest Zuma, says Police Minister Bheki Cele

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  • The police will not rush to arrest former president Jacob Zuma, according to Police Minister Bheki Cele.
  • Cele says they are still awaiting clarity on the way forward after Zuma indicated that he would challenge the Constitutional Court finding in terms of which he was sentenced to 15 months behind bars.
  • Zuma was sentenced after he was found guilty of contempt of court for his failure to appear before the State Capture Inquiry.

Police Minister Bheki Cele says police will not rush to arrest former president Jacob Zuma in line with a Constitutional Court order.

Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court on Tuesday for his failure to comply with a Constitutional Court order to honour a subpoena to appear before the State Capture Inquiry. The court sentenced him to 15 months in prison and ordered Cele and national police commissioner Khehla Sitole to arrest him if he failed to hand himself over within five days.

But on Monday, Cele said there was still time for police to act if there was a need to do so.

Speaking in Orlando, Gauteng, at the launch of the vaccination drive for the police sector, Cele said his office was given until midnight  on Wednesday to arrest Zuma.

However, they were still seeking clarity after it emerged that Zuma was challenging the court order. Zuma will approach the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday to urgently interdict or stay the Constitutional Court order for his arrest, News24 previously reported.

READ | Zuma tells ConCourt jail term is a death sentence, raises Covid-19 fears in last-ditch plea for mercy

The embattled former president wants the apex court's judgment to be rescinded.

He argued in papers that he believed that because "it is my own unstable state of health, and that it is my physical life, that the incarceration order threatens", he is "entitled" to have the country's highest court re-examine its ruling.

Cele said the police hoped the Department of Justice would guide it on the way forward "because when we were given the instruction, there were no other legal activities taking place".

Cele said:

As the SAPS, the ministry... the national commissioner, we have [sought] better clarification. Are we waiting for the activities that are happening in court or [are] we [continuing with] the present instruction? So, we have time on that one. I don't think we need to rush.

The Constitutional Court will hear the rescission application on 12 July.

At a press briefing on Sunday, Zuma likened the apex court's judgment to apartheid. The former president claimed he was "facing long detention without trial".

FACT CHECK | Propaganda, Zondo, and the judiciary: 5 claims made during Zuma's media briefing

Scores of Zuma supporters descended on Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal over the weekend and held an illegal gathering outside his homestead.

Cele said no arrests were made because police wanted to avoid bloodshed. He said they had established that about 100 of the supporters at the gathering were armed. He said police action would have resulted in the kind of chaos that occurred at the Marikana massacre.

Cele said police investigations were continuing and added that arrests were not ruled out.

Meanwhile, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) commended the "restraint" the police exercised.

Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said police were calm despite the explicit, provocative attempts displayed by some protesters.

"There are various intelligence resources and methods that are deployed in ensuring those who act outside the bounds of the law are held accountable," he said.

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