FORMER PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has been released on medical parole for an undisclosed condition, just under two months after he was jailed for 15 months for contempt of court.
Zuma, 79, who would have been eligible for normal parole on 23 October, was placed on medical parole based on a report from the South African Military Health Services, according to correctional services spokesperson Singabhako Nxumalo.
The former head of state was jailed on 8 July and incarcerated at the Estcourt Correctional Centre’s medical wing, before being moved to an outside facility for treatment and a medical procedure.
Zuma’s admission to hospital has resulted in the postponement of his corruption trial, set to be heard in the high court in Pietermaritzburg, and is likely to cause further delays.
His incarceration sparked a wave of riots and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng, which the government has characterised as an attempted insurrection.
Nxumalo said that in addition to terminal illness and physical incapacity, inmates could be considered for medical parole if they suffered from an illness that “severely limits their daily activity or self-care”.
Medical parolees should also be low-risk, and there should be “appropriate arrangements” for their supervision, care and treatment with the community to which they would be released.
“Medical parole placement for Mr Zuma means that he will complete the remainder of the sentence in the system of community corrections, whereby he must comply with a specific set of conditions and will be subject to supervision until his sentence expires,” Nxumalo said.
“We want to reiterate that placement on medical parole is an option available to all sentenced offenders provided they meet all the requirements. We appeal to all South Africans to afford Mr Zuma dignity as he continues to receive medical treatment.”
Zuma has refused to allow a medical expert appointed by the National Prosecuting Authority to carry out a second examination, although it was agreed to by his medical team during the last hearing in his corruption and racketeering trial.
Ed Note: The JZ Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi says they welcome the decision and for now “we look forward seeing the old-man waking up from his bed” he was quoted.
Manyi went further and said they will consult with his family before issuing any media statements.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance’s leader John Steenhuisen says it will be appealing the decision to grant Zuma medical parole.
“I’ve had disturbing information shared with me this morning that the medical board rejected the application. In fact, Mr Fraser unilaterally overrode that. There needs to be maximum transparency,” he said.
We will also be going to court for a review of this decision, says Steenhuisen.
Image (Former President JZ Zuma granted medical parole).