On Mr Zuma going to prison – Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

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Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town has pledged to visit former South African President Jacob Zuma in prison. 

The Archbishop said this in a statement issued in response to the Constitutional Court judgement jailing Mr Zuma for 15 months for refusing to obey a court order to appear before a commission of inquiry into high-level government and private sector corruption. 

The full text of Archbishop Makgoba’s statement follows: 

“I had prayed that we would not get to the point at which Mr Zuma was jailed for contempt. 

“But it is to the credit of our democracy that the judiciary and institutions of accountability remain strong in the face of pressure. They are a source of reassurance and hope that all that we have struggled for has not been lost in this last period, years which the locusts have devoured. We remain a resilient democracy.

“The Court has done what it is mandated to do and that is to uphold the Constitution and its values without fear or favour. This is also a moment to pledge to continue to strengthen and respect these institutions, as they represent the best of our humanity and our social convictions as democrats and artisans of justice. 

“South Africa is built on a strong constitutional foundation and this judgement needs to be seen in that light. It needs to be stressed again and again that it is the Rule of Law that is paramount. That  includes the principle that no one is above the law.  We all need to respect the Rule of Law, its principles and the organs of our society that give expression to it. 

“To those who are inclined to push back against this judgement, to those who have been preparing the ground by denouncing the judiciary, I urge them:  do not go this route. Instead devote your energy to supporting campaigns to popularise our Constitution, to broaden education around the basic tenets of democracy and to engage in activities that offer hope for the future. 

“Jesus asked, ‘When I was in prison, did you visit me?’ As a pastor, my heart is heavy over Mr Zuma going to prison. I will pray for him and, when apt, I will ask to visit him.”