The Pretoria high court has ruled that former Correctional Services National Commissioner Arthur Fraser’s decision to place former President Jacob Zuma on medical parole was unlawful and has therefore set it aside.
Additionally, Judge K. E. Matojane ruled on Wednesday (15 December) that Zuma must be returned to prison to serve out the remainder of his 15-month sentence.
Jacob Zuma’s medical parole set aside
“It is declared that the time [Zuma] was out of jail on medical parole should not be counted for the fulfilment of [Zuma’s] sentence of 15 months imposed by the Constitutional Court,” Matojane said.
He further declared that the Medical Parole Advisory Board “is the statutory body to recommend in respect of the appropriateness of medical parole to be granted or not in accordance with section 79(1)(a) (the terminal condition and incapacity requirements).”
Fraser, whose term as Correctional Services National Commissioner has since ended, admitted in September that he had overruled the parole board when he granted Zuma the medical parole.
The DA moved to court to challenge his decision on the grounds that it went against the parole board’s recommendation and was taken “for an ulterior purpose.” It was joined by lobby groups AfriForum and the Helen Suzman Foundation.
‘Big victory for rule of law’
Reacting to the ruling, DA leader John Steenhuisen tweeted, “This is a big victory for the rule of law and the principle of equality before the law. There is ONE set of laws to ALL.”
There has been no public reaction so far from Zuma. His Foundation’s spokesperson, Mzwanele Manyi, simply tweeted, “Let me tool” – euphemism for “Let me keep quiet.”
He eventually gave himself up at his Nkandla homestead a few minutes before a midnight deadline and was committed to the Estcourt correctional facility in KwaZulu-Natal.
However, his imprisonment sparked a wave of unrest and looting across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces which President Cyril Ramaphosa characterised as a failed attempt at instigating an insurrection.
It is unclear at this stage whether Zuma and Correctional Services National Commissioner will appeal the ruling or not. They were ordered to pay costs in the matter.