South Africa


Jacob Zuma needed to have met these conditions to get medical parole. Did he?

Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Sharon Seretlo)

Correctional Services boss Arthur Fraser appears to have skipped a step to authorise the former president’s medical parole.

Conditions for medical parole. (Graphic: Daily Maverick)

Former President Jacob Zuma had to have one or more of 23 specific medical conditions to be granted medical parole and this condition had to have been confirmed by a medical advisory parole board to secure his get-out-of-jail-free card. 

But the Department of Correctional Services will neither name nor confirm whether the medical advisory parole board was convened before Zuma’s appeal for parole was granted by Correctional Services Commissioner Arthur Fraser on September 5. 

The parole system sets out a detailed rule of law process before medical parole can be granted, as George Aloysius Pillay set out in his master’s thesis.

Read against the rapid way in which Zuma’s was granted, it is clear that corners were cut by Fraser, who goes back a long way with the former head of state. Fraser is alleged in reports to have given the so-called ‘spy tapes’ to Zuma which contained details of how his Arms Deal corruption prosecution by the National Prosecuting Authority may have been politically tainted. Later, as DG of the State Security Agency, Fraser commandeered a private intelligence army that served Zuma as the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture has been heard.

Medical parole is granted if the offender is terminally ill or suffers from one of the conditions set out in the graphic, if the risk of reoffending is low, and if there are appropriate post-release conditions for the inmate’s supervision, care and treatment.  

Zuma would have had to lodge an application — likely through his team of military doctors or his lawyers — setting out his medical incapacity, which limits his ability to take care of himself or to undertake the normal daily activities of life. 

This application must have been approved and recommended by the Estcourt prisons boss (where he was or is still being held)  and then submitted to a Medical Parole Advisory Board to recommend the release of the inmate on medical parole. 

This is where the story gets murky: the Correctional Services Department would not say who was on the board, if it convened, to hear Zuma’s request or application for parole and what the outcome of its deliberations was.  According to Pillay, the board comprises 13 independent medical practitioners who monthly review applications from the country’s 243 prisons. It makes decisions by a majority vote, but the Daily Maverick has been told of concerns that Fraser overrode its decision.  

The Medical Parole Advisory Board is guided by the conditions map, we outline here “but may consider any other condition that is not listed” provided it complies with the principles of parole. Only if this board recommends parole can it be granted; a step that Fraser appears to have overridden to help get Zuma home to Nkandla.  

Zuma was jailed for being in contempt of court, and the judgment which sent him to prison for 15 months was taken to a rescission hearing. The Constitutional Court has not ruled on the application for rescission of its entire judgment. Correctional Services Department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo did not respond to five requests for information and comment from the Daily Maverick. A source in the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services said all the steps for medical parole had been adhered to.  

The infectious conditions for which the Commissioner can grant medical parole are: Aids, severe cerebral malaria, MDR or XDR TB and one other.  The non-infectious conditions are several cerebral conditions, including a severe head injury with an altered level of consciousness. It includes COPD, cardiac conditions, malignant cancer and organ failure, and severe rheumatoid arthritis. Until now, Zuma’s social media posts suggest he was in rude health.  

The DA announced on September 7 that it is taking the decision to grant Zuma medical parole on review.  DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Peter Pyke says:

    It was only a matter of time. This is the political solution.

  • Jo Van says:

    The members of the ANC government would fit in well with South African taxi drivers – they have the same total disregard for the law, and their attitude of entitlement keeps on being rewarded by a continued lack of consequences. I so wish that their electorate could see this for what it is and stop voting for them. All voters who vote for the ANC are keeping the scoundrels in power and are directly responsible for what is happening to our country and for our dismal future.

  • Dhasagan Pillay says:

    Poor Schabir. So brave, to play golf, when he’s sick as a dog.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    The president allowed a crook like Fraser to remain in government employ, now the country has to live with the consequences. Every day it becomes more clear that the difference between Ramaphosa and Zuma is minuscule. Both value the party higher than the country.

  • Brian Cotter says:

    Fraser’s contract will expire on 25 September, and is not likely to be renewed. So why not push his best mate’s release while he can. It will be hard to put JZ back in prison afterwards, there could be another rampage and looting session. Anyway KZN ANC needs his ANC promotion from Nkandla. Cyril, why didn’t you put Arthur Fraser out to pasture earlier, you knew he was a danger to everyone. Lessons learnt.

  • Ian Gwilt says:

    Every one knows it is a farce
    In real politicks Ramaphosa may be happy to look the other way as he has many other problems to face
    Taking this off the table from those internal dissidents who want to replace him will help.
    Not that it is right
    Fixing what Zuma broke will not happen tomorrow, call me a sceptic but I think that the poison or cancer that he injected into the body corporate of SA will never be removed
    It is at best what level can you bring it down to and manage.
    He himself is a broken force, do not let the rentseekers/RET warriors have him as a martyr to their thieving
    Tie him up in courts and the *** that he deserves, while picking off his Acolytes and bed fellows

  • Jonathan Deal says:

    The rules don’t apply. They are for the man in the street.

  • Johan says:

    Who benefits?
    Yes, obviously Zuma. While everybody is shouting about Fraser and due process and access to information…
    …who else benefs? What is the bigger picture? Are the pro-Zuma faction angry at Ramaposa? When is the election again? Are the ANC said to be under pressure this election? What did Ramaposa (the mostly silent politician) say after Zuma’s release?

  • Tony Reilly says:

    Seems like it always falls on the DA to expose the rot. I look forward to hearing the review application.

  • virginia crawford says:

    Fraser should be investigated for flouting the rules and other corruption.

  • CAB OWMAN says:

    Fraser and JZ must be going to play golf with Shabir Sheik I assume!

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Shabir Shaick and Mugabe were the guinea pigs who explored the “medical option” in lieu of prison….it worked for them and will work for Zuma. Crime pays it seems!

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    I’m surprised that infection of the private’s ( that a shower can’t cure) is not included on the list! He could well have used it as an excuse for medical patrol….

  • Uno Pereira says:

    And why is South Africa so resigned and silent about this? Why aren’t people (who aren’t Zuma or RET supporters) protesting on the streets against Zuma’s release and the IEC decision?
    Are we so desilusioned with the ANC and our democracy that we don’t get surprised anymore?
    The little headway made towards justice and reparation with Zuma’s arrest is now completely void if not rolling backwards. What was the point of such a theatrical performance with the consequences it brought: the violence, destruction and loss of lives, if the plan all along was to find an excuse to let him out again? I can’t imagine what the Constitutional Court judges must be feeling, after so much deliberation and the attacks it received after the judgment, for nothing. What about the families who lost loved ones, lost businesses and livelihoods?
    What don’t we know about this botched process, how does Zuma, his family and close associates manage to act with such impunity and without consequences? There are many dots that still need connecting, but it’s staring to look like a very clear pattern, of arrogance and complete disregard for the country and its constitution, a pattern present in many other countries in Africa who have descended into authoritarianism and abuse of power by a government whose liberation struggle medals have lost all its shine and that will do anything to stay in power.

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