The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria on Wednesday morning ruled that former president Jacob Zuma’s placement on medical parole was unlawful and that he should return to jail.
Judge Elias Matojane found that Zuma’s medical parole was unlawful and he found that Correctional Services Commissioner Arthur Fraser was not entitled to order his release.
“The decision of the first respondent (Fraser at the time) to place the third respondent (Zuma) on medical parole, taken on September 5, is reviewed, declared unlawful, and set aside;” the order read.
The judge said the medical parole decision is substituted with a decision rejecting Zuma’s application for medical parole.
In ordering Zuma’s return to prison, the judge said: “It is hereby directed that the third respondent (Zuma) be returned to the custody of the Department of Correctional Services to serve out the remainder of his sentence of imprisonment.”
The court also ordered that the time declared that Zuma was out of jail on medical parole should not be counted for the fulfilment of the sentence of 15 months imposed on him by the Constitutional Court.
The judge said in terms of the Correctional Services Act, the Medical Parole Advisory Board is the statutory body to recommend whether medical parole should be granted or not.
To add to Zuma’s woes, the judge slapped him and Fraser with the legal costs of this application.
Judge Matojane commented in his judgment that the Constitutional Court has already determined that 15-month direct imprisonment was the only “just and equitable” order to make under the circumstances and has rejected other lesser forms of punishment.
“The Constitutional Court concluded that “if with impunity, litigants, especially those in positions like that of Mr Zuma, are allowed to decide which orders they wish to obey and those they wish to ignore, a constitutional crisis will be precipitated”.
“The court ordered an unsuspended sentence of imprisonment for a period of 15 months,” the judge said.
He added that the commissioner’s unlawful intervention has resulted in Zuma enjoying nearly three months of his sentence sitting at home in Nkandla, not serving his sentence in any meaningful sense.
“The commissioner (Fraser) has unlawfully mitigated the punishment imposed by the Constitutional Court, thereby rendering the Constitutional order ineffective, which undermines the respect for the courts, for the rule of law and for the Constitution itself,” Judge Matojane said.
The judgement followed an urgent application earlier by the DA in its opposition to the release of Zuma on medical parole.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has said it notes the judgement delivered on December 15 2021 by the Gauteng Division of the High Court, Pretoria, on the medical parole placement of the former President, Jacob Zuma. DCS is currently studying the judgement and in due course, we will make further pronouncements.