The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein will hear former president Jacob Zuma’s appeal against a high court ruling which overturned his medical parole, on Monday.
Zuma and the Department of Correctional Services are appealing the Pretoria High Court judgment, which ruled that his release on medical parole was unlawful and irrational.
Former Correctional Services Commissioner Arthur Fraser released Zuma on medical parole less than two months after he was jailed, against the recommendation of the Medical Parole Advisory Board.
Zuma was serving his 15 months’ imprisonment for contempt of court after he failed to abide by the Constitutional Court order requiring him to appear before the State Capture Commission.
In the heads of argument filed in the SCA, Zuma says the attempts to get him back to prison are doomed to fail due to the misinterpretation of the law.
Zuma, says Fraser, had an obligation to protect him as an inmate and exercise his constitutional responsibilities. He says the Correctional Services Act empowered the national commissioner to act decisively and protect the rights of an inmate to adequate medical treatment.
SCA to hear Zuma’s parole appeal:
Legal analyst Sekonyela Moeketsi says, “Although, it will appear that if one looks at the previous judgment there was also consideration of the application of Section 79 and my view is that Section 79 seems to be dealing only with medical parole. But this grants Section 75 grants the National Commissioner powers to make such a determination. So, as far as that is argued before the court, there are prospects of success.”
The Helen Suzman Foundation, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and AfriForum, who are challenging the decision to release the former president, contend that Zuma did not meet the prescribed criteria to be released.
They argue that Fraser was duty bound to uphold the recommendation of the Board not to release Zuma. They further submitted that the Correctional Services Act does not grant an overriding power to avoid the criteria prescribed for medical parole.
Legal Analyst, Machini Motloung, says both parties have legal standing but that relies on how they present their matter in court.
Motloung, says, “Applicant for consideration of medical parole must be terminally ill or physically incapacitated. Now, this is one aspect of the requirements which the respondents in this appeal seek to argue that it has not been fully satisfied in actual fact they base their arguments on the decision by the medical parole advisory board.”
The legal prospects of former president Jacob Zuma
DA vigorously pursuing Zuma parole case
DA Federal leader John Steenhuisen will attend the sitting in the SCA to hear Zuma’s appeal.
Steenhuisen says his party wants to ensure that the rule of law is upheld in this case and that Zuma serves his 15 months jail sentence for contempt of court.
Steenhuisen says, “We believe that one of the key foundation principles of any democracy is equality before the law. There should be no special treatment for former presidents and it shouldn’t matter whether an ordinary citizen or a former president, the law must apply equally to you…”
“We are also pursuing this case vigorously because we are hopeful that following the Zondo Commission of Enquiry that there will be many more arrests for those involved in State Capture…” added Steenhuisen says.
In its judgment in December, the Pretoria High Court ordered that Zuma be returned to custody and serve the remainder of his sentence. It declared that the time Zuma spent out of jail on medical parole should not be counted towards his 15 months sentence.
Zuma and the Department of Correctional Services will now have to convince the SCA that the High Court erred in its judgment.
TIMELINE | Jacob Zuma