The Department of Correctional Services on Sunday announced that former President Jacob Zuma has been placed on medical parole. Zuma was recently sentenced to 15 months in prison by the Constitutional Court for contempt, after failing to appear before the state capture commission of inquiry and answer questions.
In its statement, the Correctional Services Department said Zuma’s medical parole eligibility is impelled by a medical report received by the department. “Apart from being terminally ill and physically incapacitated, inmates suffering from an illness that severely limits their daily activity or self-care can also be considered for medical parole.
“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 specific set of conditions and will be subjected to supervision until his sentence expires.”
AN ‘UNACCEPTABLE MOVE
An immediate uproar followed the announcement of Zuma’s medical release. The Congress of the People (Cope) has condemned the decision to grant Jacob Zuma medical parole. Denis Bloem described the decision to grant Zuma medical parole as unacceptable.
“Placing former President Jacob Zuma on parole makes a mockery of the parole system in this country. It is quite clear that Jacob Zuma received preferential treatment from day one from the Department of Correctional Services.”
“The release of Zuma on medical parole is a very clear signal that people in this country are still being treated based on their political connections. This is a serious breach of justice and is something against which a very strong stance should be taken,” said Ernst Roets, head of policy and action at AfriForum.
The One SA Movement (OSA) said it was seeking more transparency from the department of correctional services on how it reached the questionable decision to grant Zuma parole. OSA will submit a formal application, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, requesting the full record that led to the department’s decision.
“This is crucial to ensure the public is taken into confidence that government’s decision was in good faith, and is furnished with both reasons and rationale behind such a decision,” OSA said.
The DA’s John Steenhuisen said: “A report on the health status of any prisoner must be subject to the recommendation by an independent board to confirm, in truth, that a prisoner is indeed deserving of medical parole. Given that Jacob Zuma publicly refused to be examined by an independent medical professional, let alone a medical advisory board, this decision is a violation of the act and therefore unlawful.”
On Sunday, the Department of Correctional Services said former that President Jacob Zuma’s medical parole could only be revoked if he did not comply with its conditions. The infamous former president has been released on medical parole for an undisclosed condition.
Zuma would have been eligible for parole on 23 October but was placed on medical parole based on a report from the South African military health services.
While Zuma’s “medical observations” are shrouded in mystery, the former president’s secret ailment has allegedly worsened since he began his sentence at the Estcourt Correctional Services Centre in KwaZulu-Natal.
Correctional Services spokesperson Singabhako Nxumalo insisted that all offenders are eligible to be placed on medical parole should they be seen fit.
“Apart from being terminally ill and physically ill, inmates suffering to the point where they miss their daily activities or self-care can also be considered for medical parole.”