Court in Pretoria orders former president Jacob Zuma back to prison

Wednesday December 15 2021
Jacob Zuma

South Africa's former president Jacob Zuma walks with his daughter Duduzile Zuma-Sambdula after appearing in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, October 26, 2021. FILE PHOTO | REUTERS


The High Court in Pretoria has ordered former South African President Jacob Zuma to return to prison after it ruled that he was unlawfully granted medical parole.

In July, Zuma was jailed for 15 months for contempt of court after he had refused to obey summons to appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.

But he served just two months of his sentence at Estcourt Correctional Centre in KwaZulu-Natal before being released on medical grounds.

His freedom saw the Democratic Alliance (DA) make an urgent court application challenging the decision by former Department of Correctional Services Commissioner Arthur Fraser to grant parole to the former head of state.

Civil rights organisations AfriForum and the Helen Suzman Foundation joined DA in the court application.

In setting aside the decision by Mr Fraser, Judge Elias Matojane of the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria said the former prison boss “acted for impermissible purpose” and side-stepped the parole board in setting Zuma free.


Rule of law

“The commissioner (Fraser) has unlawfully mitigated the punishment imposed by the Constitutional Court, thereby rendering the Constitutional order ineffective, which undermines the respect for the courts, for the rule of law and for the Constitution itself,” Judge Matojane said in his judgement.

“The decision of the first respondent (Mr Arthur Fraser at the time) to place the third respondent on medical parole, taken on 5 September 2021, is reviewed, declared unlawful, and set aside.

“It is hereby directed that the third respondent (Zuma) be returned to the custody of the Department of Correctional Services to serve out the remainder of his sentence of imprisonment.”

Zuma will now return to jail and pick up from the two months he had served.

“It is declared that the time the third respondent was out of jail on medical parole should not be counted for the fulfilment of the third respondent’s sentence of 15 months imposed by the Constitutional Court,” the judgement read.

‘Major breakthrough’

Lobby group AfriForum welcomed the decision, saying it is a “major breakthrough for justice in South Africa”.

But suspended ANC member and Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus castigated the High Court’s decision.

 “It’s clear to me now that our courts are fully captured,” he alleged.

The Department of Correctional Services said “it notes the judgement” and “is currently studying the judgement and in due course, we will make further pronouncements”.