Former President admitted to hospital, July 2021
Former President Jacob Zuma. Photo: Carte Blanche

The granting of medical parole to former president Jacob Zuma by the Department of Correctional Services is “entirely unlawful and makes a mockery of the Correctional Matters Amendment Act of 2011”, according to opposition leader John Steenhuisen.

In a statement on Sunday night, the DA Leader pointed out that following the debacle around the granting of medical parole to Schabir Shaik in 2009, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services unanimously supported the amendment of Section 79 of the Act to stipulate that:

“The Minister must establish a medical advisory board to provide an independent medical report to the National Commissioner, Correctional Supervision and Parole Board or the Minister, as the case may be, in addition to the medical report referred to in subsection (2)(c)”

Steenhuisen said:

“This amendment was made to specifically ensure that the legislation could not be manipulated into granting parole on medical grounds to any prisoner not deserving of it, as was done for Schabir Shaik.

“A report on the health status of any prisoner must be subject to recommendation by an independent board to confirm, in truth, that a prisoner is indeed deserving of medical parole. Given that Jacob Zuma publicly refused to be examined by an independent medical professional, let alone a medical advisory board, this decision is a violation of the Act and therefore unlawful.”

Steenhuisen said that any prisoner considered for medical parole must meet all three criteria stipulated in the Act:

  1. He or she must suffer from a terminal illness or be rendered physically incapacitated due to injury, disease or illness;
  2. the risk of re-offending must be low; and
  3. there must be appropriate arrangements for care in the community to which he or she is to be released.

Simply being of an advanced age does not qualify, said Steenhuisen.

“It should also be noted that this medical parole was granted to Zuma by his former spy boss, Arthur Fraser – a man deeply implicated in the corruption of the State Security Agency and accused of running an illegal parallel intelligence structure. Instead of firing him from his administration, President Cyril Ramaphosa promoted him to his current position of prisons boss,” he said.

Steenhuisen will be submitting an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for the records of the Parole Board to establish what criteria the Department of Correctional Services used to determine Jacob Zuma’s eligibility for medical parole.

“I will also request that the Justice and Correctional Services Committee summon Arthur Fraser to explain to Parliament his decision to grant this medical parole in direct contravention of the Correctional Matters Amendment Act,” he concluded.

Afriforum described Zuma’s release on medical parole as “a violation of justice”, and said it is currently in consultation with its legal team about possibly applying for an urgent review application.

Ernst Roets, Head of Policy and Action at AfriForum, said that the release of Zuma on medical parole is a “blatant violation of justice that cannot merely be accepted”.