Jacob Zuma

Former South African President Jacob Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in jail yesterday by the country’s top court after failing to appear at a corruption inquiry.

Zuma, 79, is accused of financial scandals during his 2009-18 tenure known as “state capture”—where the corruption runs so deep it influences the decision-making process. 

Zuma, an associate to Nelson Mandela and leader of South Africa for nearly a third of its post-apartheid history, alleges the probe is politically motivated. In place of appearing at court, the former president instead publicly released a letter addressed to the chief justice (read here), accusing the panel of bias. 

Zuma has had a rocky legal history. He pleaded not guilty last month to corruption charges over a 1999 arms deal with a French manufacturer in which he allegedly took bribes while he was deputy president. He would be the first former South African leader to be imprisoned after his term.