South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma has handed himself to the police to begin serving a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court.
He was admitted to Estcourt Correctional Centre in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.
Police had warned that they were prepared to arrest him if he did not hand himself in by midnight.
Zuma, 79, was handed the jail term last week after he failed to attend a corruption inquiry.
The sentencing sparked an unprecedented legal drama in South Africa, with a deadline imposed of midnight on Wednesday (22:00 GMT) for his arrest.
The deadline was imposed after Zuma refused to hand himself in on Sunday.
In a short statement, the Jacob Zuma Foundation said the former president had “decided to comply with the incarceration order” and hand himself to prison authorities.
His daughter, Dudu Zuma-Sambudla, later wrote on Twitter that her father was “en route [to the jail] and he is still in high spirits”.
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.#WenzenuZuma
— JGZuma Foundation (Official) (@JGZ_Foundation) July 7, 2021
She also joked about Zuma’s impending time behind bars.
Just spoke @PresJGZuma en route and he is still in high spirits. He said that he hopes they still have his same overalls from Robben Island and we laughed hard that at least he won’t struggle with Afrikaans this time round. We salute dad! Amandla ✊🏽✊🏽✊🏽!!! pic.twitter.com/ooLngCSDXg
— Dudu Zuma-Sambudla (@DZumaSambudla) July 7, 2021
South Africa has never seen a former president jailed before.
Zuma was sentenced on 29 June for defying an instruction to give evidence at an inquiry into corruption during his nine years in power.
Businessmen have been accused of conspiring with politicians to influence the decision-making process while he was in office. But Zuma has repeatedly said that he is the victim of a political conspiracy.
Though he was forced out of office by his own party in 2018, the African National Congress (ANC), he retains a loyal body of supporters, especially in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.
On Sunday, crowds formed what they called a human shield outside Zuma’s palatial home in an effort to prevent his arrest. Similar crowds gathered before he handed himself in on Wednesday