Court Orders Ex-President Jacob Zuma To Return To Prison
According to Reuters, South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal decided on Monday that the decision to release ex-President Jacob Zuma on early medical parole was “illegal” and that he should return to prison to serve his term for contempt of court.
Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison last year after refusing to testify before the Zondo Commission, which was probing him for suspected corruption during his nine years as president.
After a dramatic standoff, the 79-year-old surrendered to police in July 2021, but his imprisonment, unusual for an ex-president, triggered violent riots and looting.
In December of last year, the Supreme Court overturned Zuma’s parole judgment and ordered him to return to prison. But Zuma filed an appeal and was released.
On any conceivable basis, the commissioner’s decision was unlawful and unconstitutional. The high court was correct to set it aside.
In other words, Mr Zuma, in law, has not finished serving his sentence. He must return to the Estcourt Correctional centre to do so.
Whether the time spent by Mr Zuma on unlawfully granted medical parole should be taken into account in determining the remaining period of his incarceration is not a matter for this court to decide. It is a matter to be considered by the Commissioner. If he is empowered by law to do so, the commissioner might take that period into account in determining any application or grounds for release.
A spokesman for Jacob Zuma Foundation said the foundation would respond. On Sunday, ahead of the court ruling, foundation spokesman Mzwanele Manyi said the judgment did not have anything to do with Zuma. He said:
We think… he has served the 15 months that he was meant to serve in any event and importantly it is not President Zuma that applied for the medical parole… It is the government itself, the department of correctional services initiated the process and they saw it through.
The court did not rule on whether time spent by Zuma on medical parole should be taken into account when determining the remaining period of incarceration, saying this would be left in the hands of the national commissioner of correctional services.
The department of correctional services said it noted and respects the court’s decision.