The Department of Correctional Services (DKD) is still studying the Constitutional Court’s ruling on Jacob Zuma’s parole, but the DA believes the former president should surrender himself or be arrested.
On Thursday, the Constitutional Court dismissed Zuma’s leave to appeal with costs and thus confirmed that the medical parole that Arthur Fraser, the former commissioner of the DCD, granted to the former president in September 2021 was illegal.
Singabakho Nxumalo, DCD spokesperson, said that the DCD is obtaining legal advice on the ruling and will make further comments in due course.
The DA welcomed the Constitutional Court’s ruling and said it now confirms “that Zuma belongs in prison, and that his troublesome litigation was a last desperate attempt to evade justice”.
John Steenhuisen, DA leader, said the party’s lawyers are currently drafting a letter that will be presented to Zuma and in which he will be requested to surrender himself voluntarily and within a reasonable time frame for arrest.
“If Zuma fails to comply with this request, we will write to the National Commissioner of Correctional Services, Makgothi Samuel Thobakgale, asking him to arrest Zuma and return him to Estcourt Prison. If one of these parties fails to comply, they will be in contempt of court.”
If Thobakgale attempts to delay the entry into force of the Constitutional Court’s ruling, the DA will not hesitate to take further steps to ensure that this ruling is upheld, Steenhuisen said.
“Zuma must now bear the consequences for his shameless disregard for the rule of law. This judgment must now also serve as an important legal precedent that ensures that any and all ANC members and public representatives involved in state capture can never abuse the medical parole process to evade accountability.”
In 2021, the civil rights organization AfriForum, the DA and others served an urgent court application against six respondents in the case that challenged the release of Zuma on medical parole.
The question that now remains is whether Zuma should go back to prison or whether he has already served his sentence even though it was outside prison due to an illegal medical parole. However, AfriForum’s position is that Zuma should go back to prison to serve his full sentence there.
“No politician may be considered above the law. The illegal way in which Zuma escaped his prison sentence means he still has another sentence to serve behind bars,” said Ernst van Zyl, campaign officer for strategy and content at AfriForum.
On 29 June 2021, the Constitutional Court sentenced Zuma to prison for contempt of court due to his failure to testify before the Zondo Commission after state capture. He began serving his prison sentence on 8 July 2021 at Estcourt Prison.
This led to a wave of violent riots which eventually caused more than 300 deaths and caused economic damage of billions of rand.
Zuma was released on medical parole in September 2021. The Supreme Court of Appeal ruled in November last year that the medical parole on which Zuma was released is unlawful and unconstitutional, and that he must return to prison for a period as determined by the DCD. There was an appeal against the verdict, after which the Constitutional Court has now delivered its verdict.