Former president Jacob Zuma has thanked protesters involved in the July 2021 violent riots and looting for their stance against his imprisonment.
Zuma was speaking outside the Pietermaritzburg high court on Monday, where his private prosecution against state prosecutor advocate Billy Downer and News24 journalist Karyn Maughan was postponed to December.
He has accused the two of breaches of the National Prosecuting Authority Act for the alleged leak of his private medical records.
Addressing a group of about 200 supporters in the CBD, Zuma, who sang his signature Umshini Wami tune, spoke about his experience in July after his 15-month sentence for failing to appear before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture and corruption.
His imprisonment at Estcourt correctional facility sparked eight days of civil unrest, looting and violence which eventually resulted in more than 350 deaths and billions of rand in damage.
He was told of developments after he was taken to prison and thanked those who protested against his treatment.
Zuma, who was formally released from correctional supervision on Friday, said he celebrated the end of his medical parole.
“I am free. The parole was exhausted last week. I am ready for everything. I thank you for standing beside me when things were tough for me last year.”
He said he felt hard done by the Constitutional Court.
“When they told me I should answer questions despite my misgivings, my thinking was I am not going there as I also have a right. I am unrepentant.”
On Monday’s court proceedings, Zuma said he will not be made to bow to a judiciary “hell-bent on persecuting him” for his beliefs.
“I took a decision to fight for the oppressed people of this country and I cannot go back to that form of oppression.
“Normally he [Downer] is always the one who prosecutes me, but this time around it’s his time to face the music for having flouted the laws,” said Zuma.
A prosecutor should not gossip or leak sensitive court information to journalists because it amounts to breaking the law.
“They always have a tendency to break the law. But I told myself that it ends now. This has resulted in the judge giving a ruling summoning them to court at 9.30am, failing which a warrant of arrest would be issued.”
He also lauded supporters for their support in his protracted arms deal-related corruption and money laundering matter, which started in June 2005.
Among those supporting him on stage was his daughter Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla.
Zuma launched a veiled attack on the previous KwaZulu-Natal ANC leadership.
“Some among us have guts. But some others don’t. I thank the chair and his deputy because this helps us navigate a way together,” said Zuma.
The provincial ANC leaders have given their support to the former president.
The party said on Sunday: “We continue to encourage ANC rank and file to support Msholozi during this period as our father and a dedicated leader who sacrificed his life for all of us to attain this political freedom.”
Also addressing supporters on Monday, ANC KZN chair Siboniso Duma said the provincial conference earlier this year resolved to support Zuma.
“We do not seek permission from anyone to come to court, comrades. We want it to be crystal clear to everyone. Whether some people like us or not.”
Zuma had done the unthinkable when he opened cases against Downer and Maughan.
Duma accused Downer of racism and said Maughan believed black people shouldn’t be respected.