Jacob Zuma connected Thursday began a 15-month condemnation for contempt of court, becoming post-apartheid South Africa's archetypal president to beryllium jailed aft a play that campaigners said ended successful a triumph for regularisation of law.
Zuma, 79, reported to situation aboriginal Thursday aft mounting a last-ditch ineligible bid and stoking defiance among extremist supporters who had rallied astatine his agrarian home.
His conflict transfixed the country, placing a spotlight connected the contented of impunity and tensions wrong the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
South Africa's apical tribunal connected June 29 slapped Zuma with a 15-month word for refusing an bid to look earlier a probe into the corruption that entangled his 9 years successful power.
As constabulary warned helium faced apprehension from midnight Wednesday, Zuma handed himself successful to a jailhouse successful the agrarian municipality of Estcourt successful his location state of KwaZulu-Natal.
Many South Africans hailed his incarceration arsenic a watershed moment.
Former corruption buster and ex-ombudswoman Thuli Madonsela hailed it arsenic a "glorious day, successful that it says that the regularisation of instrumentality prevails."
If helium had not gone to prison, "it would person sent daze waves to the system," she said.
The absorption Democratic Alliance said, "The instrumentality cannot beryllium mocked and challenged with impunity. If the person tin spell to prison, past truthful tin anyone."
But, it cautioned, the contempt condemnation did not code the wider corruption, fraud, racketeering and wealth laundering that proliferated nether Zuma.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation struck a akin note.
"His ineligible strategy has been 1 of obfuscation and delay, yet successful an effort to render our judicial processes unintelligible," it said.
"It is tempting to respect Mr Zuma’s apprehension arsenic the extremity of the road. But this is simply different signifier successful what we judge volition beryllium a agelong and fraught journey... It is captious that Mr Zuma and his supporters beryllium held accountable each measurement of the way."
- Flawed president -
The occurrence provided what is apt to beryllium a crushing extremity to an bonzer but tarnished career.
Born into poverty, Zuma started retired arsenic an uneducated herdboy who joined the ANC, becoming its quality main successful its conflict against the apartheid regime.
His charisma and courage, including 10 years successful jailhouse connected notorious Robben Island, placed him alongside Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and different liberation heroes.
In 2009, helium became antiauthoritarian South Africa's 3rd president, but it proved to beryllium a tenure darkened by divisions and the stench of corruption.
In 2018, Zuma was forced retired by the ANC and replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa, a erstwhile commercialized national person who became a tycoon aft apartheid was yet dismantled 30 years ago.
Investigators accidental that nether Zuma, billions of dollars successful authorities assets were siphoned disconnected by cronies.
But their efforts to get Zuma to attest ran into a wall. Critics labelled him the "Teflon president" for his perceived quality to sidestep justice.
- Defiance -
Zuma had been fixed a deadline of Sunday nighttime for turning himself in. Failing his surrender, constabulary were fixed 3 days -- until midnight Wednesday -- to apprehension him.
Zuma filed a last-ditch petition to overturn the apprehension and pleaded with the Constitutional Court to rescind its sentence. The tribunal volition perceive the plea connected Monday.
Defiantly bucking the archetypal deadline, Zuma declared astatine the play that helium was prepared to spell prison, adjacent though "sending maine to jailhouse during the tallness of a pandemic, astatine my age, is the aforesaid arsenic sentencing maine to death."
"I americium not frightened of going to jailhouse for my beliefs... I person already spent much than 10 years successful Robben Island, nether precise hard and cruel conditions," helium said.
As the Wednesday deadline loomed, constabulary said they were prepared to transportation retired the apprehension bid unless ordered different by the court.
Just minutes earlier midnight, Zuma's instauration tweeted helium had "decided to comply with the incarceration order" and manus himself in.
He volition beryllium eligible for parole successful conscionable nether 4 months.
- Party tensions -
The play has fuelled tensions with the ANC, wherever Zuma supporters person clamoured for the defence of their leader portion others person demanded the instrumentality beryllium allowed to tally its course.
"Be beardown present due to the fact that things volition get better," Ace Magashule, a Zuma stalwart who has been suspended arsenic ANC caput wide implicit fraud charges, said successful a tweet.
"It mightiness beryllium stormy now, but it can’t rainfall forever. We worker on."
In a statement, the enactment said "without uncertainty this is simply a hard play successful the movement" and appealed for members "to stay calm and respect the decision" taken by Zuma to abide by the tribunal rulings.
Zuma has besides been accused of engagement successful a bribery matter dating backmost much than 20 years.
He faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering relating to a 1999 acquisition of combatant jets, patrol boats and subject cogwheel from 5 European arms firms for 30 cardinal rand, past the equivalent of astir $5 billion