/ 6 August 2021

Zuma in hospital for observation

Former President Zuma
In sickness and in health: Former President Jacob Zuma waves at his supporters outside the Pietermaritzburg high court. (Photo by Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe)

Jailed former president Jacob Zuma, who was due to appear in court on corruption charges on Tuesday, has been admitted to an outside hospital for medical observation, according to prison authorities.

The former head of state, who is serving a 15-month sentence for contempt at the Estcourt Correctional Centre, was moved from the prison to an unnamed hospital early on Thursday.

Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the decision to take Zuma,79, for in-hospitalisation had been made after a “routine observation”.

He said Zuma would undergo medical observation, with his treatment involving the South African Military Health Services (SAMHS) responsible for his healthcare, because of his status as a former president. 

SAMHS has been involved in taking care of Zuma’s health needs since his incarceration began at the beginning of July. 

It is not clear at this point whether Zuma’s court appearance on Tuesday will go ahead.

The former head of state had been set to appear in person in the Pietermaritzburg high court for an application his legal team had brought for the case to be struck and for prosecutor Billy Downer SC to be removed from the proceedings.

Zuma is charged with multiple counts of money-laundering, corruption and racketeering over the series of payments he received from his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, and French arms manufacturer Thint (now Thales), during the 1990s.

Shaik was jailed for 15 years for his role in the matter, but was later released on medical parole.

It is not clear for what medical condition Zuma is being kept under observation.

Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi did not respond to calls from the Mail & Guardian.

However, he posted further confirmation on Twitter that Zuma was in a hospital outside the prison.

“The 79 year old, 1st prisoner of the ConCourt, jailed without trial is attending to his annual medical routine check up. No need to be alarmed…yet,”’ Manyi tweeted.