Former South African President Jacob Zuma has been granted compassionate leave to attend his brother’s upcoming funeral. The Department of Correctional Services released a statement on Thursday morning confirming the decision but it said that a sentenced offender remained a sentenced offender even when temporarily outside of correctional facilities.
Zuma is currently serving a 15 months prison sentence being in contempt of court over his refusal to cooperate with the state capture inquiry that he set up. Jacob Zuma will be allowed to attend his brother’s funeral and the department said that he would not be required to wear his prison uniform.
The department’s Singabakho Nxumalo: “A sentenced offender who’s granted permission to leave a correctional centre remains a sentenced offender even while temporarily outside. This permission granted to Mr Zuma is for the 22nd of July, 2021. When outside the correctional facility, inmates need not wear offender uniform, as a short-term, low-risk classified inmate.”
Meanwhile, the Congress of the People (Cope) has warned that releasing Zuma would be a security risk. “If media reports are true that former President Jacob Zuma has applied to the Correctional Service Department to attend his late brother Michael Zuma’s funeral who passed on a few days ago, we ask that the decision-makers be cautious,” the party said in a statement.
It also admits that this will be a difficult decision to make: “We are thinking of a situation where the supporters of Zuma refuse to let him go back to prison. Will the security forces be up to the task to get him back to prison without spilling blood?”
The department earlier said that there were a number of factors to be considered in the matter in terms of the Correctional Services Act.
Spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said: “An application has been brought to our attention by the former president and it is now being considered in line with the Section 24 1(a) of the Correctional Service Act and once an outcome is out, we will inform the public.”