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Africa: Jacob Zuma urges court to stop his arrest



South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma has urged a regional court to block his arrest as he pursues legal challenges against a prison sentence.


The development came on Tuesday, a week after the constitutional court sentenced Zuma to a 15-month jail term for contempt of court after he defied an order to give evidence at a corruption inquiry in February.


The court instructed police to arrest Zuma by the end of Wednesday if he did not hand himself in, sparking an angry reaction from Zuma’s supporters and laying bare deep divisions in the governing African National Congress (ANC) party.


But late last week Zuma asked the constitutional court to cancel its sentence and approached the high court for an interdict to prevent police from arresting him until the constitutional court hears his “rescission application” on July 12.


In legal arguments before the Pietermaritzburg High Court, Zuma’s lawyer Dali Mpofu on Tuesday argued that the former president would turn 80 on his next birthday, his “health condition is uncontestably precarious”, and he was not a flight risk as he was under the care and security of the state.


That argument gained short shrift from the anti-corruption panel that Zuma snubbed.


“We are dealing with a repetitive and recalcitrant law breaker in the form of Mr Zuma,” attorney Tembeka Ngcukaitobi told judge Bhekisisa Mnguni.


“He has now come to ask you to assist him to break the law further. You should reject that.”


The court then went into recess, with the verdict expected on Friday.


Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller, reporting from Pietermaritzburg, said according to legal experts Zuma has a “very low prospect of succeeding” given that the constitutional court is the highest court in the land.


“There isn’t any other court above it and that’s why jurisdiction is now being argued in the Pietermartizburg court. After the court ruling the people will have a clearer indication of whether the former president will in fact be arrested.” Aljazeera 

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