South Africa’s former president, Jacob Zuma, has been released on parole for just over two months after being sentenced to prison on charges of contempt, sparking violent protests that escalated into deadly clashes and looting.
The government’s Department of Correctional Services said in a: pronunciation on Sunday that the parole of Mr. Zuma was “forced by a medical report”, but it gave no details about the nature of his illness. Zuma was admitted to a hospital last month to undergo the first of several medical procedures, the department said at the time.
Zuma will serve the remainder of his 15-month prison sentence under surveillance in the community correction system, the department said, adding that he would be “supervised until his sentence expires”. But it did not provide any details on where exactly he would serve his parole.
His release comes after his shocking demise as a once-celebrated freedom fighter who fought alongside Nelson Mandela against apartheid and was a powerful figure in the ruling African National Congress.
Zuma, 79, was forced to resign in 2018 after being rejected by the ANC, threatened by a vote of no confidence in parliament and abandoned by millions of voters. He was taken into custody on July 7 after South Africa’s highest court found him guilty of contempt for refusing to appear before a commission investigating high-profile corruption charges during his nine years as president.
John Steenhuisen, the leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance party, said in a statement on Sunday that Mr Zuma’s medical parole was “completely illegal” and made a “mockery” to the country’s correctional law.
“Jacob Zuma publicly refused to be examined by an independent medical professional, let alone a medical advisory board,” said Mr Steenhuisen, adding that such an assessment was required by law to grant a prisoner medical parole.
Under the South African Correctional Act, those eligible for release on medical grounds include terminally ill inmates serving 24 months or less, people who are physically incapacitated, and inmates suffering from an illness that interferes with their day-to-day activities or their assets. severely limited to take care of themselves. The risk of recidivism must also be low.
“We call on all South Africans to give Mr Zuma dignity while he continues to receive medical treatment,” the correctional department said.
A foundation named after Mr. Zuma, who: posted on Twitter that it welcomed the decision, said he was still in the hospital.
But the One South Africa Movement, which focuses on policy solutions to South Africa’s development challenges, said: in a statement on Twitter that the government’s decision was questionable and lacked transparency.
When Mr Zuma was detained in July, supporters condemned the arrest, arguing that he had been treated unfairly and that it was unconstitutional to sentence him to prison without trial. Some called for the closure of his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Protests led to several deaths, tens of millions of dollars in damage and the disruption of the country’s coronavirus vaccination program.
President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed the military to curb civil unrest, describing it as one of the worst in the country’s history.