DA to make PAIA application to establish criteria for Jacob Zuma’s medical parole

06 September 2021 - 07:13
By Suthentira Govender
DA leader John Steenhuisen says Jacob Zuma's medical parole makes a
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times DA leader John Steenhuisen says Jacob Zuma's medical parole makes a "mockery" of SA law. File photo.

DA leader John Steenhuisen will submit a Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) application to establish what criteria the correctional services department used to determine former president Jacob Zuma’s eligibility for medical parole.

On Sunday Steenhuisen said he will also request that the justice and correctional services committee summon correctional services commissioner Arthur Fraser “to explain to parliament his decision to grant this medical parole in direct contravention of the Correctional Matters Amendment Act”.

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 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.

He was sentenced to 15 months behind bars and spent several weeks of incarceration in the medical wing of the prison before he was moved to an external hospital for further treatment.

Steenhuisen said granting Zuma medical parole was “entirely unlawful and makes a mockery of the Correctional Matters Amendment Act of 2011”.

“Following the debacle around the granting of unlawful medical parole to Schabir Shaik in 2009, parliament’s portfolio committee on correctional services unanimously supported the amendment of section 79 of the Act to stipulate that ‘the Minister must establish a medical advisory board to provide an independent medical report to the national commissioner, correctional supervision and parole board or the minister, as the case may be, in addition to the medical report referred to in subsection (2)(c).

“This amendment was made to specifically ensure the legislation could not be manipulated into granting parole on medical grounds to any prisoner not deserving of it, as was done for Shaik.

“A report on the health status of any prisoner must be subject to recommendation by an  independent board to confirm, in truth, that a prisoner is indeed deserving of medical parole.

“Given that Zuma publicly refused to be examined by an independent medical professional, let alone a medical advisory board, this decision is a violation of the act and therefore unlawful.

“Furthermore, any prisoner considered for medical parole must meet all three criteria stipulated in the act. He or she must suffer from a terminal illness or be rendered physically incapacitated due to injury, disease or illness; the risk of reoffending must be low; and there must be appropriate arrangements for care in the community to which he or she is to be released. Simply being of an advanced age does not qualify.”

Steenhuisen said it should also be noted “this medical parole was granted to Zuma by his former spy boss, Arthur Fraser”.