Fresh challenge to granting medical parole to Jacob Zuma

14 September 2021 - 13:08
Former president Jacob Zuma was granted medical parole. File photo.
Former president Jacob Zuma was granted medical parole. File photo.

The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) has launched a court application to declare that correctional services department head Arthur Fraser’s decision to grant former president Jacob Zuma medical parole is unlawful and is set aside.

This is the second application before the high court in Pretoria challenging the national commissioner’s decision to grant Zuma parole. The DA launched its application last Friday.

The HSF said it wrote to Fraser last Monday to request the record of and the reasons for his decision to place Zuma on medical parole.

The foundation said Fraser did not respond to its request by Sep. 13, the deadline set for response.

The foundation then launched its urgent application before the court on Tuesday in two parts.

In Part A, the HSF seeks the record of and the reasons for Fraser’s decision to place Zuma on medical parole. This is to facilitate the relief sought in Part B of its application, which is the review and setting aside of Fraser’s decision.

The HSF also seeks an order substituting the decision with a decision refusing Zuma’s application for medical parole.

In June, the Constitutional Court sentenced Zuma to a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court for failure to comply with an earlier court order that he honour a summons to appear before the state capture inquiry.

Zuma was released on Sep. 5, which was 58 days after he was admitted as an inmate at the Estcourt Correctional Services facility in KwaZulu-Natal on July 8.

In his founding affidavit, HSF director Francis Antonie said that during an interview with the SABC last week, Fraser had said he took the decision to grant Zuma parole.

In that interview, Fraser also admitted the Medical Parole Advisory Board, which is the expert medical body established under the Correctional Services Act, did not approve medical parole because it indicated Zuma was in a stable condition.

Antonie said according  the act, the national commissioner may grant medical parole only if the Medical Parole Advisory Board determines the offender is suffering from a terminal illness.

He said even if Fraser’s decision is reviewed and set aside, the intervening time when  Zuma is unlawfully released on medical parole may still count towards his sentence.

“If so, Mr Zuma would have benefited from an unlawful reduction of his sentence.”

Antonie said Zuma was not entitled to an unconstitutional reprieve from his sentence.

“Absent a full and proper accounting to justify him being released on medical parole, the rule of law requires the punctilious and full enforcement of the Constitutional Court order.”

Antonie said Zuma was in prison for little more than a tenth of his sentence.

“To rub salt into the judiciary’s deep wounds, the National Commissioner’s diktat overruled the medical experts.”

Antonie said this was not the first time a public figure who wields significant public influence has benefited from a lightning-speed parole decision.

He was referring to Zuma’s former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who was granted medical parole in 2009 just two years into his 15-year sentence for corruption and fraud.