Former President Jacob Zuma was arrested on Wednesday night - 45 minutes before the arrest deadline as ordered by the Constitutional Court.

Former President Jacob Zuma at the state capture commission on 17 July 2019. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

Eyewitness News 

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Correctional Services confirmed in the early hours of Thursday morning that former President Jacob Zuma was admitted to the Estcourt Correctional Centre in KwaZulu-Natal to begin serving his 15-month sentence for being in contempt of court.

"Mr Zuma will be taken through all the admission processes as per DCS regulations. Other relevant prescripts pertaining to admitting and orientating newly incarcerated persons will also be followed and executed," the department said through its statement.

The Police Ministry also confirmed that Zuma "was placed in South African Police Service custody as in compliance with the Constitutional Court judgment".

In a press address on Sunday, Zuma made it clear that he should not be sent to prison as he was old.

"Sending me to jail during the height of a pandemic at my age is the same as sentencing me to death," he said.

But the department said it could not confirm anything about Zuma's prison conditions just yet.

"Details about the appropriate classification, prerogatives and incarceration conditions can only be determined at the completion of the assessment process to be undertaken by relevant authorities within the employ of DCS," it added.

The Jacob Zuma Foundation sent confirmation at that the former leader was arrested at 11:47pm, saying a full statement would be issued in due time. A motorcade was seen leaving him home at 11:15pm on Wednesday night.

"Dear South Africans and the World. Please be advised that President Zuma has decided to comply with the incarceration order. He is on his way to hand himself into a Correctional Services Facility in KZN. A full statement will be issued in due course," it said through a tweet.

Zuma was meant to hand himself over to police on Sunday 4 June, failing which police had three days to arrest him, making the final deadline midnight on Wednesday.

On 29 June a scathing Constitutional Court judgment found him guilty of being in a contempt of a ruling that said he must appear and participate at the state capture commission and he was sentenced to 15 months behind bars.

Zuma asked the justices of the apex court to reconsider their ruling through a rescission application, but this does not automatically stay his arrest. Zuma also turned to the High Court in attempt to stay out of prison.

On Tuesday, the former president's lawyer, Dali Mpofu, asked the Pietermaritzburg High Court to freeze his arrest warrant and jail term pending the outcome of his rescission application in the Constitutional Court.

The state capture commission opposed Zuma’s legal bid in the High Court, saying it did not have the power to overturn a committal by the Constitutional Court.

Judgment by the Pietermaritzburg High Court has been reserved until Friday.

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