/ 10 September 2021

Legal challenges loom against Zuma’s medical parole

Former President Zuma�s Corruption Trial Hearing
Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo by Gallo Images / Phill Magakoe)

As widely expected, the Democratic Alliance says it will take the decision to grant former president Jacob Zuma medical parole on judicial review. 

At a briefing on the steps of parliament on Friday, DA leader John Steenhuisen said the party would approach the high court in Gauteng to set aside the “unlawful” medical parole granted to Zuma this past Sunday.

His announcement followed a letter sent by the Helen Suzman Foundation on Monday to the correctional services commissioner, Arthur Fraser, who approved Zuma’s parole, requesting that it be furnished with reasons for the former president’s early release. 

Zuma was sentenced to 15-months imprisonment in July after the constitutional court found him in contempt for failing to obey summons to testify at the inquiry into state capture during his presidency. The commission is chaired by acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo

On Friday, Steenhuisen said the DA believed Zuma’s medical parole was “unlawful” for two reasons. 

“First, it was taken against the recommendation of the medical parole advisory board not to grant medical parole to Mr Zuma. Second, it was taken for an ulterior purpose not permitted by section 79 of the Correctional Services Act, and regulations which govern the granting of medical parole in South Africa,” he said.

These sentiments were contained in the Helen Suzman Foundation’s letter to Fraser. The nonprofit said the parole decision was “shrouded in secrecy”, and asked the correctional services department to provide “full written reason for the decision”. 

Among other demands, the foundation asked for documents that formed part of the parole decision, including the medical report relied upon.

“Should you fail to deliver the above-mentioned information and documentation timeously or should the information [or] documentation not negate our client’s concerns about the lawfulness or otherwise of the decision, our client will have no option but to assume that there was no lawful basis for the decision and to exercise its legal rights, in its interest and in the public interest, on an urgent basis,” it read.

The deadline for Fraser’s response is Monday.