Zuma's arrest remains painful, says Malema

EFF leader Julius Malema says Zuma should have been placed under house arrest. File photo.
EFF leader Julius Malema says Zuma should have been placed under house arrest. File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell

EFF leader Julius Malema has opened up about the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma, saying it broke his heart.

Zuma is serving a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court at the Estcourt Correctional Centre in KwaZulu-Natal.

He was handed the sentence by the Constitutional Court last month after failing to appear at the state capture inquiry.

Speaking on SABC News, Malema said despite his differences with Zuma, he was not happy about his prison sentence.

“Zuma's arrest remains painful until today, worse for contempt of court when we have murderers who are not arrested or prosecuted,” said Malema.

“Do I want an 80-year-old in prison? Hell no. Do I want Zuma arrested? Yes. What form of arrest? House arrest because he is too old,” he added.

Malema said he does not wish any harm on his enemies, even Zuma. 

“We have no prisons in SA, we have correctional services. We correct you and reintegrate you back into society,” said Malema. “How will we correct an 80-year-old and reintegrate? So Zuma is going to be a wasteful expenditure.”

Speaking on his friendship with the former president, Malema told Kaya FM that he was “never close” to Zuma.

“I was never close to Zuma by the way. The first time I went to Nkandla is when I went to have tea now. I had never been to Nkandla,” said Malema.

“I never had president Zuma's cellphone number and have never spoken to him on the cellphone. But I have got Cyril's number and I speak to him on the phone so actually if you had to compare the relations, I am more closer with Cyril than I am to president Zuma.

Last week, Zuma’s spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi told eNCA that Zuma was struggling in prison due to his age. 

“ President Zuma is a man with a very strong heart, but the prison conditions are never good for a person that is approaching his 80th birthday. He is having very serious issues,” said Manyi.

He said people have been friendly to Zuma, but prison was taking a toll on him psychologically.

“We cannot complain about the treatment [he is receiving] in the cells. People are friendly to him, but the psychological impact is taking a toll on him. So this is not a happy situation.

“There is no way of trying to paint it nice. It's just not a happy situation because he is sitting there with a heavy heart and his health is not enhanced by conditions the government has put him in,” Manyi said.