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Zuma to appeal rescission of parole, argues returning h...

South Africa

#GoBackToJail Ruling

Zuma to appeal rescission of parole, argues returning him to prison would be a ‘death sentence’

Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Leila Dougan)
By Des Erasmus
15 Dec 2021 17

Former president Jacob Zuma’s legal team believes that his special right to personalised medical care provided by the national defence force because of his status would be violated should he again be incarcerated.

Zuma being returned to jail would also be tantamount to “the death sentence”, according to his legal team. 

Attorneys for Zuma filed a notice on Wednesday to appeal the high court judgment that earlier on 15 December ordered the former president to return to prison to complete his 15-month sentence for contempt, on the grounds that his being granted medical parole by the then correctional services head and Zuma acolyte, Arthur Fraser, was unlawful. Both men were hit with cost orders. 

The Department of Correctional Services said that it too would be appealing the decision, as it was “convinced that another court may arrive at a different conclusion”. 

“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. We will outline the grounds of appeal in the papers that we will be filing in court in due course,” said the department via a statement. 

It is likely Zuma’s legal team anticipated Wednesday’s loss at the North Gauteng High Court, with the appeal being papers released within a matter of hours of the judgment being handed down. 

Zuma’s leave to appeal suspends the order that he returns to prison. His legal team said there were “overwhelmingly good prospects of success” should the appeal be heard.  

The lawyers contend that Judge Keoagile Matojane erred or committed “gross misdirections of fact or law” when he failed to acknowledge, among other things, the “overwhelming evidence that no correctional facility in South Africa is capable of accommodating the undisputed medical needs of [Zuma], who is entitled to 24-hour medical care from the South African Medical Health Services (SAMHS).”

“In this regard, the substitution order amounts to cruel and degrading punishment with no due regard to [Zuma’s] healthcare, dignity and other human rights. It is the antithesis of ubuntu….”

Fraser’s decision to grant Zuma parole was an ‘unlawful intervention’ that undermined respect for SA’s courts

Judge Matojane said in his judgment that Fraser granting the former president medical parole on 5 September, despite the Medical Parole Advisory Board (MPAB) just days earlier not recommending such, was an “unlawful intervention” that undermined respect for the country’s courts, the constitution, and the rule of law.  

Zuma was ordered back to prison, with the time he spent on medical parole not being counted as fulfilling part of his sentence.  

The urgent applications had been brought by the Democratic Alliance, Helen Suzman Foundation and AfriForum. 

The DA had sought that the parole decision be declared unlawful, reviewed and set aside and to substitute it with a decision refusing medical parole, and that Zuma be returned to prison. 

The Helen Suzman Foundation had sought an order that Zuma’s time on medical parole not be counted towards completion of his sentence.

AfriForum had sought a declarator from the court that the MPAB is the statutory body to recommend the appropriateness of medical parole in terms of the Correctional Services Act, and that the national commissioner of correctional services could not make such a determination, and should refrain from doing so. This too was granted. 

The lawyers for the applicants argued that Zuma did not satisfy the requirements for medical parole as per the Act, because he was not  “suffering from a terminal disease or condition” and was not “rendered physically incapacitated as a result of injury, disease or illness so as to severely limit daily activity or inmate self-care”. 

But in his application, Zuma’s legal team said that none of the three organisations had any business being involved in the court proceedings to challenge his release on medical parole as they were “pursuing a political rather than a legal agenda”. 

Too, according to Zuma’s legal team, the judge had erred when he “second-guessed” and/or overruled “the expert and professional opinion of qualified medical experts”, given that the applicants did not present contrary medical evidence from experts. The court itself did not have any medical expertise that was sufficient to make any contrary finding, according to the legal team. 

Fraser had said in his submission that he decided to grant medical parole to the “frail” 79-year-old, who has various comorbidities, on the strength of several medical reports from the military health service, and a report from Dr Mphatswe, a member of the Medical Parole Advisory Board. 

And, said Fraser, the head of Estcourt Correctional Centre, where Zuma was incarcerated, had expressed concern that should Zuma need medical assistance, the facility would not be able to provide “the type” needed. 

The newly refurbished Estcourt Correctional Centre has been hailed by correctional services as being “state of the art”, with an extensive medical wing, which is why Zuma was incarcerated there instead of at Westville prison, where he was initially meant to serve his sentence. 

Nevertheless, Fraser had also said that he overruled the Medical Parole Advisory Board because of exceptional circumstances: A former head of state had never previously been incarcerated, and should Zuma have died in prison, there was a fear that the type of violence experienced during the July riots could reoccur. 

The judge dismissed these as “irrelevant considerations”, saying that nowhere could they be found in the Act, and that threats of riots were not grounds for releasing an offender on medical parole.  

Zuma’s legal team also hammered on about the judge referring to a  newspaper article in his judgment. 

That article was submitted by the DA in its application and reported Zuma meeting with political allies Carl Niehaus and Dudu Myeni at Sibaya Casino on 15 October. Zuma had also addressed his supporters at a virtual prayer meeting the day prior. The judge said this showed that, as the medical parole advisory board had determined, Zuma was “not terminally ill or severely incapacitated and seems to be living a normal life”. 

It was an “absurd notion”, said Zuma’s legal team in response, “that a terminally ill person cannot meet other people or address a prayer meeting”. 

“The court grossly misdirected itself in making an unqualified diagnosis that, inter alia, because he can pray, Mr Zuma ‘is not terminally ill or severely incapacitated and seems to be living a normal life’. Such a conclusion flies in the face of all the objective medical evidence by trained and professional doctors.” 

It was also gross misdirection to order that Zuma be returned to jail, said the legal team, as the conditions there were “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. This is tantamount to the death sentence which was abolished in 1995 in South Africa”. DM

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All Comments 17

  • Perhaps JZ could do us all a favour and just die. The stench of his hypocritical self serving arrogance definitely wafts all the way to Australia!

  • Shame, poor Jacob, jailtime is too hard on him. “It is the antithesis of ubuntu”. That’s well said and, for once, I agree with a statement from Zuma’s legal team but not in the way they mean. In so many other ways though. Any suffering by JZ from his “incarceration” is absolutely laughable compared to millions of lives and the future of this country that he destroyed for his own selfish greed. A fate worse than death is too good for this excuse for a human being.

  • If prison is so abhorrent maybe he should have fully cooperated with the commission. Duh.
    This little worm can’t even take his punishment like a man. He is a coward. Every ANC member and supporter should be begging forgiveness from the rest of the country for putting this plonker in power for nine years.

  • This idiot didn’t care one whit about lying, stealing and cheating over how many years and now he’s crying about a bit of jail time. Shame. He doesn’t know what the after life has in store for him. Karma is a **** thing.

  • I think it is now time to leaver “the Old Man” alone!
    The Judiciary, the State – and, by implication, the people of SA: we have all made our point: Mr. Zuma is a criminal!
    Plus – he has a nother few cases to deal with.

    What purpose would it be to send him back to jail for another few months?
    He is 79 years old – where is the humanity we speek of so often?
    Let us also apply that to the individual, Jacob Zuma!

    NB: I am by no means a supporter of this corrupt individul – who has done so much to bring this once beautiful and thriving country to its knees. Who has trodden violently on the promises made when democracy came to power in this country. Who has horribly deceived all South Africans and has stolen from them – especially from the poorest: the Black population. Who were denied access to services, asbestos-free houses, good medical care, jobs, …
    But – it is time to “let go”. We can now turn the other cheek!

    • What, klap him on both cheeks? I think that this barbarian has to experience the hell that he created for so many people here. F….. him.

    • You ask “What purpose would it be to send him back to jail for another few months?” – Hopefully this is a lesson for all South Africans that crime does not pay in the long run!
      He did not show any humanity while in power, and certainly has no remorse for ruining our beautiful country and the future generations – he needs to start showing respect for the law.

    • Eberhard – you are welcome to offer your services and do the jailtime in his stead. That would be a great way to show ubuntu and at the same time ‘turn the other cheek’. Idiot! What about respect for the law? jz and every anc member who ever continued support for this inbecile, like cr and his ilk should be hanged out to dry.

    • Eberhard: actions have consequences. Parents teach that to children, politicians and the would-be corrupt need that same lesson. Using former prisoner Zuma as an example is very appropriate.

      What? Old or sick or poor people can get away with anything because we should feel sorry?

  • When I recall the giggling glee with which JZ pranced and leapt around, distracting the nation as his Gupta gaggle and friends robbed the country blind, I can think of no better place for him to succumb than in a lonely prison cell — cut off from his multiple wives, girlfriends and children. We all have to die, and, in the end, it’s a lonely business. But to allow this man to continue spitting on our excellent Constitution and the rule of law would be a further travesty for the people of South Africa, now and in the future.

  • Once again believe JZ is not putting forward a legal argument, rather just some dramatic drivel. Please, all old, sick people, send me your details, time to rob a bank. Cannot send you to jail for doing that, would be a death sentence. If you are stupid all the better will make sure you get your percentage 😉 JZ please don’t apply, I do have specific absolute minimum requirements.

  • You nearly gave South Africa the death sentence,you are a narcissistic, pathological liar.Go pay your dues ,so called spear of the nation.Listen to the cheers of south africans hopefully it will reverberate through your cell forever and a day

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