Family elder says Jacob Zuma could return home next week
Former president Jacob Zuma could spend the next long weekend surrounded by family in the comfort of his Nkandla homestead in picturesque KwaZulu-Natal, a family elder said on Wednesday.
“I was told to wait for this week to pass and then he will be home. That is what they said to me, but we are still going to confirm,” said Zuma’s 80-year-old brother Joseph.
It has been 10 days since Zuma was granted medical parole for ill health by the department of correctional services head Arthur Fraser. But little is known about when he will be discharged from the hospital he was admitted to for medical treatment in August.
Department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo would only say that “the doctors treating him will decide” when the time is right to discharge Zuma.
However, another source confirmed what Joseph was told, saying Zuma was scheduled to be discharged from the hospital on September 24.
“This has not been confirmed yet, it is just a preliminary date. We are hoping it will be early next week, we are tired of waiting,” said the source.
The Jacob Zuma Foundation’s Mzwanele Manyi said the date of discharge will not be made public due to security reasons.
“Due to a frenzy of media enquiries, the foundation wishes to advise that due to security reasons, the discharge of [former] President Zuma from the hospital will not be announced. At the right time, subject to correctional services conditions, further announcements will be made,” said Manyi.
The 79-year-old former head of state 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 his incarceration in the medical wing of the prison before being moved to an external hospital for further treatment.
The family told TimesLIVE previously that Zuma had been unwell since he was “poisoned” in 2014. The Sunday Times reported that he travelled to Russia to confirm the diagnosis and undergo treatment.
The department of correctional services early this month announced that Zuma was being placed on medical parole because of ill health. The announcement came 58 days after he was admitted as an inmate at the Estcourt Correctional Centre facility.
TimesLIVE reported on Tuesday that the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) launched a court application to declare that Fraser’s decision to grant Zuma medical parole was unlawful and should be set aside.
It is the second application before the high court in Pretoria challenging the national commissioner’s decision to grant Zuma parole. The DA reportedly launched its application last Friday.
The HSF said it wrote to Fraser last Monday to request the record of and reasons for his decision to place Zuma on medical parole. The circumstances surrounding the parole remain a mystery.
Meanwhile, Zuma’s family, friends and relatives in kwaDakwadunuse are eagerly awaiting his return to give him a hero’s welcome. Last week the family told TimesLIVE that celebrations and a prayer were planned to give thanks to the ancestors for Zuma’s safe return.
At the time, Zuma’s other brother Khanya said, “Usually when something good happens we slaughter cows to say thank you, but we have not met to discuss how we are going to celebrate.”
On Wednesday he said the family was still waiting for Zuma. “We do not have any knowledge of when he is coming home but we met as the family to discuss various issues. We will only discuss how we are going to celebrate when he is back,” he said.
Another family insider, who asked not to be named, welcomed the decision not to announce Zuma’s return “because he will be hounded like they did with Schabir Shaik”.
The source was referring to an incident in 2011 where Shaik, who was then a staunch Zuma ally and his former financial adviser, was seen playing golf at the Papwa Sewgolum Golf Course in Durban despite being released on medical parole for being terminally ill.
Shaik was granted medical parole in 2009, two years after he was sentenced to jail for 15 years for fraud and corruption.