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From delayed medical report to release on parole: 5 must-read stories on Jacob Zuma

06 September 2021 - 13:30
Former president Jacob Zuma has been released on medical parole. File photo.
Former president Jacob Zuma has been released on medical parole. File photo.
Image: Lulama Zenzile

The release of Jacob Zuma on medical parole has drawn major reactions from civil society, politicians and human rights organisations who want him behind bars.

The former president was under observation at a military hospital outside the Estcourt Correctional Centre in KwaZulu-Natal, where he was serving a 15-month jail sentence. 

Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court in June after he refused to testify at the state capture inquiry.

On Sunday, correctional services said in a statement that Zuma would complete the remainder of the sentence in the “system of community corrections”.

Here's a rundown of Zuma's health struggles over the past few weeks:

Zuma's team misses deadline to submit health report: August 20

The former president's legal team missed a deadline of August 20 to file a medical report with the Pietermaritzburg high court, indicating whether he was fit to stand trial on corruption charges linked to the arms deal.

The former president is facing 16 counts of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering.

On August 23, the NPA confirmed to TimesLIVE that the Pietermaritzburg high court gave Zuma's lawyers until August 20 to submit a detailed report on his medical condition.

A confidential medical report: August 27 

A week after missing the deadline, Zuma's lawyers filed a “confidential” medical report relating to his state of health with the NPA.

The high court ordered that a medical practitioner appointed by the state be given access to Zuma to assess his fitness to attend court and stand trial. NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said the NPA was not at liberty to reveal the contents of the document until the matter was heard in court. 

Zuma snubs NPA doctor: August 31

The former president refused to be examined by a medical professional recommended by the NPA, saying the state had a tendency to second guess his ill health.

Jacob G Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi told Sunday Times Daily the state needed to rely on the report produced by doctors in the military hospital.

“President Zuma is in a situation where he is not trusted when he says he is not well ... It’s an overreach. Why would the NPA want to second-guess the military hospital? Why would they want to insult the ethics and the professionalism of those doctors? Why are they, by implication, saying this report is dishonest?” Manyi asked.

Zuma granted medical parole: September 5 

The department of correctional services confirmed on Sunday that Zuma had been granted medical parole. It said he would complete the remainder of the sentence in the system of community corrections. 

The department said there was nothing untoward about its decision.

“Medical parole’s 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 in a statement.

Opposition to Zuma's release: September 6

Ernst Roets, head of policy and action at AfriForum, said Zuma's release was a clear indication that some people were being given preferential treatment based on their political connections. 

The lobby group said it would challenge Zuma's release.

One SA Movement demanded transparency from the department of correctional services.

“This is crucial to ensure the public is taken into confidence that the government's decision was in good faith, and is furnished with the reasons and the rationale behind such a decision,” said the movement