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What's next for Jacob Zuma ?

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has appealed for calm following Wednesday’s court order for former President Jacob Zuma to go back to prison. However, Zuma currently remains a free man. The commission’s call follows a ruling by the Gauteng High Court on Wednesday morning that Zuma’s medical parole, which freed him on September 5, was unlawful. He was granted medical parole just two months into his 15-month sentence for contempt of the Constitutional Court.

A few hours after yesterday’s ruling, Zuma’s lawyers filed an application for leave to appeal. They are arguing that it is “a particularly gross misdirection to order the return of Mr Zuma to jail and to conditions which are far worse than the hospital ward from which his medical parole was granted, on the basis that no prison could adequately cater for his constitutional rights”.

The JG Zuma Foundation also tweeted that there are strong prospects that a higher court will come to a totally different conclusion to yesterday’s ruling. “Sending president Zuma to Correctional Services which is on record in its inability to provide medical care for persons with president Zuma’s condition is tantamount to giving him a death sentence,” it tweeted.

Meanwhile, the SAHRC said it has noted that social media was already abuzz with statements that have the potential to inflame the situation in the country. The commission’s Gushwell Brooks said some statements have been made in the news which could also have an inflammatory effect.

“The commission recalls that such media statements did in fact inflame the situation in June/July 2021 and led to the July unrest that took many innocent lives and resulted in large scale destruction of property in addition to violations of other human rights of many people in the country.”

Brooks called for calm and appealed to everyone to continue being law-abiding members of society. He said the security cluster must note the developments, including the evolving social media discourse about the court’s decision. Soon after the judgment, people in KwaZulu-Natal were expressing fears that there might be a backlash. Some were worried it could result in a second wave of unrest.

Security beefed up

Colin David, group director of Mi7 said they had heard rumours of possible unrest following the ruling and are on standby to deal with it if it occurred. In addition, more staff have been deployed to the CBD.

Shaheen Suleiman of Magma Security said that he had already been approached by businesses for pre-bookings to provide 50 guards in one case and 20 in another as fears simmered that looting could again break out.

Political analyst Protas Madlala said the whole awarding of medical parole was a “flop” from the beginning.

Madlala said former prisons boss Arthur Fraser went above the parole advisory board and overturned its decision in order to release Zuma on parole.

“You’ve got all these advisory bodies that are there to discuss these issues yet you just decide to overturn their decision. One can assume that Fraser overturned the parole board decision due to political or personal reasons, rather than medical reasons,” said Madlala.

He said from the beginning, it was wrong to release him and Fraser did not act according to the law, and that has been proven by the court.

“I do not rejoice that Zuma is being sent to jail, but it’s logical that some of the things were not supposed to be done in the first place. However, judging by the history of Zuma versus court, he won’t take this lying down and will delay as much as possible,” he said.

Leading figure in the pro-Zuma “radical economic transformation” (RET) ANC faction, Carl Niehaus, welcomed the steps taken by Zuma’s legal team to challenge the judgment. He described the court’s decision as “injustice at its best” and said Zuma was illegally imprisoned without trial in the first place.

Niehaus said this judgment must be rejected. “Zuma did not approve his medical parole and we wonder why he is made to suffer now. The amount of time that he has spent outside prison should be counted because that was part of the medical parole. For the court to say they don’t count those months, it’s unacceptable,” he said.

DSC to appeal

Department of Correctional Services (DCS) spokesperson, Singabakho Nxumalo, said the department will also be appealing yesterday’s judgment.

“DCS is of the view that the court sadly misinterpreted the Correctional Services Act and erred in declaring the decision of the national commissioner to place Mr Zuma on medical parole to be unlawful and setting it aside.”


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Correctional Services JG Zuma Foundation Jacob Zuma SAHRC South African Human Rights Commission


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