Prisoner rights body says ill inmates must be afforded medical parole like Zuma

06 September 2021 - 11:03
By Suthentira Govender
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 SA Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (Sapohr) has urged the correctional services department to also afford medical parole to ill prisoners in the same situation or worse off than former president Jacob Zuma.

Sapohr spokesperson Golden Miles Bhudu said the organisation “wholeheartedly welcomes” the release of Zuma on medical grounds.

The decision to release Zuma on medical parole comes nearly two months after he was admitted as an inmate at the Estcourt Correctional Services facility in KwaZulu-Natal.

The department of correctional services said: “Medical parole placement for Mr 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.

“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.”

Zuma started serving his sentence in July after he was found guilty of contempt of court for failure to comply with an order of the Constitutional Court to honour a summons to appear before the state capture inquiry.

Bhudu said the organisation “has got no business and neither the capacity nor the brains to doubt the recommendations made by a medical practitioner”.

“Needless to say Sapohr hopes this particular incident would afford other less fortunate prisoners, who are in similar or even worse medical circumstances, the same treatment.

“Over the years Sapohr has lost count of incarcerated prisoners left to die alone, and a cold death behind the high walls, neglected, ignored and mistreated.”

Bhudu said Sapohr hoped the department would “use this golden opportunity to ignite the relevant section and act, to do the right thing and make the rules and regulations that govern medical parole in prisons worth the paper it is written on.”