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According to the Department of Correctional Services, former President Jacob Zuma has officially been placed on medical parole.
On Sunday, 5 September 2021, the Department explained that Section 75 (7)(a) of the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998 affords the National Commissioner a responsibility to place under correctional supervision or day parole or grant parole or medical parole to a sentenced offender serving a sentence of incarceration for 24 months or less.
In a statement, the Department explained, “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 adds that the risk of re-offering released inmates must also be low. There must be appropriate arrangements for the inmate’s supervision, care, and treatment within the community to which the inmate is released.
Reflecting on Zuma’s parole, the Department says, “Medical parole placement for Mr Zuma means that he will complete the remained of the sentence in the system of community corrections, where he must comply with specific set of conditions and will be subjected to supervision until his sentence expires.”
It is necessary to note; medical parole can be revoked if an offender does not comply with the placement conditions.
Furthermore, the Department of Correctional Services emphasises, “We want to reiterate that placement on medical parole is an option available to all sentenced offenders, provided they meet all the requirements. We appeal to all South Africans to afford Mr Zuma dignity as he continues to receive medical treatment.”
However, Leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) John Steenhuisen states that the granting of medical parole for Zuma by the Department of Correctional Services is entirely unlawful and makes a mockery of the Correctional Matters Amendment Act of 2011.
In addition, Steenhuisen claims that 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)“
Further stating, “This amendment was made to specifically ensure that the legislation could not be manipulated into granting parole on medical grounds to any prisoner not deserving of it, as was done for Schabir Shaik.”
Moreover, the DA’s leader explains that 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 Jacob 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, he elaborates that 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 re-offending must be low.
- 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, affirms Steenhuisen.
“It should also be noted that this medical parole was granted to Zuma by his former spy boss, Arthur Fraser – a man deeply implicated in the corruption of the State Security Agency and accused of running an illegal parallel intelligence structure. Instead of firing him from his administration, President Cyril Ramaphosa promoted him to his current position of prisons boss.”
He claims that he will be submitting an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for the records of the Parole Board to establish what criteria the Department of Correctional Services used to determine Jacob Zuma’s eligibility for medical parole.
“I will also request that the Justice and Correctional Services Committee summon Arthur Fraser to explain to Parliament his decision to grant this medical parole in direct contravention of the Correctional Matters Amendment Act,” Steenhuisen concludes.
While the DA is irked by the former president receiving medical parole, the Jacob Zuma Foundation has welcomed the decision of the Parole Board, which will now see the foundation’s patron continue his sentence outside prison.
In a tweet, the foundation noted Zuma was still in hospital and that they would be issuing a more detailed statement in due course after consultation with Zuma’s legal team.
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