Johannesburg – Recently incarcerated former president Jacob Zuma would be treated like every other prisoner by wearing orange overalls, using the public phones available at the facility and eating the food served to all prisoners.
He will also be eligible for parole after around four months.
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola briefed the media on Thursday outside the Estcourt Correctional Facility, where the former statesman was jailed in the early hours of the morning.
Lamola said Zuma was “in very good spirits” and had just finished his breakfast and taken his medication before the media briefing.
He said that this was not a moment of celebration or triumphalism but a moment of restraint and to be human.
“In line with our mandate as correctional services to treat all inmates in terms of the Nelson Mandela rules, which are universal rules for the treatment of inmates. Rule 1 is empathy. All inmates shall be treated with the respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings,” Lamola said.
He clarified that it was not stipulated that Zuma should be incarcerated at the Durban Westville Prison and that the former statesman did not receive preferential treatment by serving his time at the newly built and state-of-the-art Estcourt Correctional Centre.
“The national commissioner is empowered to decide where prisoners would be kept.
“We also take into consideration an offenders risk profile and needs. The Estcourt Correctional Facility is also close to Nkandla and has many other advantages,” Lamola said.
He said the authorities were following the Correctional Services Act strictly.
The Estcourt Correctional Facility is a Medium B Facility that houses both youth and adult inmates.
It was opened in 2019 with an approved bed capacity of 512 inmates. It also has a hospital section.
As a precaution and in line with Covid-19 measures, Zuma will be placed in isolation for 14 days.
He will then be assessed by the facility’s medical team in conjunction with the South African health military service, and this will determine the conditions of his incarceration.
“This assessment is done to determine the major risks and needs of the offender. A complete profile report will then be submitted with recommendations to the Case Management Committee. This process will assist to determine the appropriate classification of the former president.
“All of these systems are in place to ensure that incarceration is done in a manner which is not retributive, but humane,” Lamola said.