Jacob Zuma was jailed for 15 months in July 2021 for contempt of court, released after 2 months on medical parole
A court in South Africa on Monday ruled that former President Jacob Zuma’s release from jail on medical parole was unlawful, ordering him to return to prison to complete his sentence.
In July 2021, Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in jail for contempt of court for refusing to testify before a judicial commission investigating corruption during his nearly decade-long presidency.
He was released from the Estcourt Correctional Center on medical parole after just two months to serve out his sentence under house arrest.
A court rescinded the parole in December and ordered him back to prison.
Zuma, 80, appealed the ruling and the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) announced its judgment on Monday.
The SCA said he was illegally granted parole by Arthur Fraser, then head of South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services, who made the decision against the advice of the Medical Parole Advisory Board.
“Mr. Zuma, in law, has not finished serving his sentence. He must return to the Estcourt Correctional Centre to do so,” read the SCA ruling.
The court also rejected the department’s claim that Zuma’s sentence ended this October while the appeal was being heard.
“Such pronouncement was premature, given that the determination of the very issue was still pending before this court,” the SCA said.
‘Victory for the rule of law’
The Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s main opposition party, was one of the three petitioners that approached the SCA for a review of Zuma’s medical parole.
The party hailed Monday’s judgment as “a victory for the DA on behalf of the people of South Africa.”
“It is a victory for the rule of law, for the principle of equality before the law, and for accountability, all of which are essential prerequisites for a successful, prosperous society,” read a DA statement.
Mzwanele Manyi, a spokesperson for the Jacob Zuma Foundation, dismissed the ruling, arguing that the ex-president “has served his entire 15-month sentence.”
“He was a prisoner until October when he completed his sentence. He did not apply for the parole, whether granted legally or not, he was not part of it,” Manyi told local broadcaster Newzroom Afrika.