The Helen Suzman Foundation, which is one of eight parties the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) has asked to file papers in the Jacob Zuma rescission application, says no international law on detaining people was violated in his jailing.

The foundation’s submissions seem to concur with the submission of the Zondo commission and that of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution.

On the other side of the argument, Democracy in Action and Zuma and his lawyers are in agreement that international law was violated in his jailing without a trial and the Concourt should correct that.

The Helen Suzman Foundation was the last to file its papers on Wednesday and it laid out why it believes Zuma’s application should be dismissed.

It said the process that led to Zuma’s sentencing to 15 months for contempt of court at the Estcourt Correction Centre was not a criminal trial where he was allowed to appeal in stages.

It added that even the Concourt “bent over backwards to afford Mr Zuma equivalent safeguards, including the further right to file an affidavit in relation to the sanction to be imposed, after the hearing” but he ignored that.

“In our law, civil contempt procedures on motion are not criminal proceedings. Therefore where, in accordance with the Constitution’s express empowering, this court has found a person in contempt of court in civil motion proceedings.

“And after careful consideration determined that imprisonment is the appropriate and necessary sanction, then evidently, by virtue of this court’s position as South Africa’s highest court, no appeal or review can lie to any higher court,” it argued in the submission.

The foundation was concerned that Zuma was still in an offensive mode against the court by claiming that its June 29 ruling was an “angry judgment which was ‘imposed in passion or pettiness’.”

“To say this about this court’s carefully reasoned judgment, which anxiously weighed the exceptional facts, our courts’ jurisprudence, the foundational values of our constitutional democracy, and Mr Zuma’s rights, including the countervailing points raised by the minority decision, is astounding.

“While depressing to read, it does have the benefit of clarifying – if any further clarification were needed – why this court must dismiss the rescission application. Even now, Mr Zuma’s written submissions are being used as a vehicle for continued attacks on the integrity and legitimacy of this court, and by implication, the very foundations of our constitutional democracy established on the rule of law.”

Editor@tech-talk.co.za

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