A South African judge has asked that ex-President Jacob Zuma be given a jail sentence for failing to appear before him to answer corruption allegations.
Zuma, 79, who was forced to step down as president in 2018, ignored a summons to appear before a commission of inquiry being chaired by Justice Ray Zondo.
Justice Zondo said Zuma’s snub could lead to lawlessness, and he would ask South Africa’s highest court to convict the ex-president of contempt.
But Zuma said he believed that Justice Zondo was biased against him and stayed at home protected by his fans who say they will do anything to protect him from being jailed.
Zuma previously asked the judge to step down as chair of the inquiry but Zondo rejected the request, saying he was doing his job impartially.
At least 40 witnesses have implicated Zuma in corruption with allegations including allowing the wealthy Gupta family to plunder state resources and to influence policy and cabinet appointments.
But Zuma has denied the allegations.
The Constitutional Court ruled last month that Zuma was compelled to appear before the commission but after his snub on Monday, Justice Zondo said everyone was equal before the law and Zuma’s snub would have far-reaching implications for democracy.
Zuma has previously said he is not afraid to go to jail and has not reacted to the judge’s ruling.
Mr Zuma was forced to step down as president in 2018 after being dogged by allegations of corruption throughout his nine years in office.
His successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, took office on a pledge to tackle the issue.
As at press time, some of Zuma’s supporters, dressed in military fatigue, have marched outside his rural home, vowing to protect him.