‘Another Schabir Shaik situation’ or the right move? SA reacts to Zuma’s release on medical parole

06 September 2021 - 08:31
By Unathi Nkanjeni
Former president Jacob Zuma has been granted medical parole. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Volksblad/Mlungisi Louw Former president Jacob Zuma has been granted medical parole. File photo.

The release of former president Jacob Zuma from prison on medical parole has garnered mixed reactions online. 

On Sunday, the department of correctional services said Zuma will complete the remainder of his 15-month prison sentence in a “system of community corrections”.

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in jail for contempt of court and incarcerated at the Estcourt Correctional Centre in KwaZulu-Natal. He was handed the sentence by the Constitutional Court in June after failing to appear at the state capture inquiry.

Zuma recently underwent surgery in a hospital outside the correctional centre and was scheduled to undergo more medical procedures.

“Medical parole placement for Zuma means he will complete the remainder of the sentence in the system of community corrections, whereby he must comply with a specific set of conditions and will be subjected to supervision until his sentence expires,” said the department.

The department said there was nothing untoward about Zuma’s release, citing it was done under the Correctional Services Act. 

It said the decision was impelled by a medical report it had received.

“Medical parole eligibility for Mr Zuma is impelled by a medical report received by the department of correctional services. Apart from being terminally ill and physically incapacitated, inmates suffering from an illness that severely limits their daily activity or self-care can also be considered for medical parole,” the department said.

“Medical parole can only be revoked if an offender does not comply with the placement conditions. We want to reiterate that placement on medical parole is an option available to all sentenced offenders provided they meet all the requirements.” 

The Jacob Zuma Foundation welcomed the decision.

“He is still in hospital. A more detailed statement will be issued in due course after consultation with the legal team of [former] president Zuma,” said the foundation.

Many on social media, including politicians, have expressed mixed reactions.

Here is a snapshot of what they had to say: