JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services (DCS) said on Wednesday that it would appeal a court judgment setting aside former President Jacob Zuma’s medical parole and ordering him back to jail.
“Having carefully studied the judgment, DCS is convinced that another court may arrive at a different conclusion,” it said in a statement.
Zuma’s legal team is also appealing the latest court ruling.
“The judgment is clearly wrong and there are strong prospects that a higher court will come to a totally different conclusion,” Zuma’s charitable foundation wrote on Twitter.
This means Zuma will not be going back to jail until the appeal is heard by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, on a date yet to be determined.
The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled that Zuma was not terminally ill, which was what the parole board, whose decision was overruled by Fraser, had said. That was because Zuma was seen in a meeting in Durban with close supporters, and he also virtually addressed a rally convened by his supporters, also in Durban.
Legal expert Advocate Mpumelelo Zikalala said if Zuma had not appealed, he would have had 10 working days (until December 27) from the day of the ruling to surrender himself.
Zikalala said be believed the court was right to rule that former prisons boss Arthur Fraser was wrong to grant Zuma parole, as he had overruled a group of experts on medical matters who are part of the medical parole board.
“The court was right on that one,” he said.
Zikalala however differed with the finding that Zuma would not be credited for the three months spent at home under prisons supervision because of the now nullified parole. He said by so doing, the court was penalising Zuma for a decision he never took.
“They cannot punish him for a decision which was taken by somebody else… His release from prison was not due to his own decision, but it was because someone decided that he should be released,” Zikalala opined.
He also disagreed with the court’s decision to slap Zuma with costs, as he said it was Fraser who was supposed to bear the legal costs for the matter. According to Zikalala, the only way Zuma could have stated his side regarding the parole was by opposing it and filing affidavits.
He said by doing so, Zuma was not acting in a malicious manner, but wanted the court to hear him out before taking a decision.
South Africa’s high court on Wednesday ordered Zuma to return to jail after setting aside an earlier decision to release him on medical parole.
The 79-year-old began medical parole in September, and is serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court, after he ignored instructions to participate in a corruption inquiry.
In the same month, South Africa’s top court dismissed a bid by Zuma to overturn the sentence.
The legal processes against him for alleged corruption during his nine-year reign are widely viewed as a test of post-apartheid South Africa’s ability to enforce the rule of law, particularly against powerful, well-connected people.
Zuma handed himself in on July 7 to begin his prison sentence, triggering the worst violence South Africa had seen in years as his angry supporters took to the streets.
The protests widened into looting and an outpouring of anger over the hardship and inequality that persist in South Africa 27 years after the end of apartheid. More than 300 people were killed and thousands of businesses were pillaged and razed.
Zuma’s presidency between 2009-2018 was marred by widespread allegations of graft and wrongdoing, and he faces a separate corruption trial linked to his sacking as deputy president in 2005 when he was implicated in a US$2 billion government arms deal.
That trial against Zuma, which has been held up for many years, on multiple charges including corruption, racketeering and money laundering, is expected to continue next year.
He denies wrongdoing in all cases and say he is the victim of a political witchhunt meant to marginalise his faction within the ruling African National Congress. The ANC said only that it noted the judgment. – ZimLive