Jacob Zuma medical parole
Jacob Zuma has been granted medical parole. Photo: GCIS

Former President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma has been placed on medical parole, the South African Department of Correctional Services (DCS) confirmed on Sunday afternoon.

The decision was made after the Department viewed Zuma’s medical report, and is based on the former SA leader having an “illness” that “severely limits” his daily activity or self care.

For many South Africans, the announcement has been no surprise and was a predicted outcome from the moment the former leader entered the Escourt Prison to serve 15 months for contempt of court.

According to SA law, the National Commissioner is able to grant medical parole to a sentenced offender serving a sentence of incarceration for 24 months or less, and to prescribe conditions of parole.


The news was welcomed by the JG Zuma Foundation, tweeting:

“The Foundation welcomes the decision of the Parole Board that H.E Prez Zuma should serve the rest of his sentence outside prison. He is still in hospital right now. A more detailed statement will be issued in due course after consultation with the legal team of President Zuma.”

Zuma (79) was imprisoned in early July, but was later moved to a hospital where he has since undergone surgery. A spokesperson said today that Zuma is still in hospital. According to the medical parole he could now go home to continue treatment there.

Correctional Services said in a statement: “Medical parole’s eligibility for Mr Zuma is impelled by a medical report received by the Department of Correctional Services. 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.

“The risk of re-offending of released inmates must also be low and there must be appropriate arrangements for the inmate’s supervision, care and treatment within the community to which the inmate is to be released to.”

The Department said that medical parole placement for Zuma means he will complete the remainder of his sentence in the system of community corrections, whereby he must comply with specific set of conditions and will be subjects to supervision until his sentence expires.

“Medical Parole can only be revoked if an offender does not comply with the placement conditions,” said Correctional Services.

The Department went to pains to stress that this was not special treatment for the former president, saying “we want to reiterate that placement on medical parole is an option available to all sentenced offenders provided they meet all the requirements.”

The nature of Zuma’s illness and his current state of health were not disclosed, apart from that his ill health is ongoing.

“We appeal to all South Africans to afford Mr Zuma dignity as he continues to receive medical treatment,” said Correctional Services.

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