WHAT NEXT: former South African President Jacob Zuma.

South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma has handed himself in to 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.

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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 in 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”.

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.

Zuma was once an illustrious political figure, who was jailed for fighting the racist system of apartheid in South Africa.

Now, he has been arrested for being contemptuous of South Africa’s most senior judges – the guardians of the democracy he fought for – as he tried to evade accountability over the deluge of corruption allegations he faced during his presidency.

It is an ignominious end to Zuma’s political career, but a proud moment for South Africa’s democracy. It shows that no one is above the law – not even a former president.

His supporters threatened to block any attempt by police to arrest him, but in the end they did not have to. The 79-year-old surrendered, knowing he could not defeat the might of the state.