POLL | What do you think of Zuma’s release on medical parole?
The release of former president Jacob Zuma from prison has sparked major debate.
On Sunday, the department of correctional services placed Zuma on medical parole after it received a medical report from the former president.
Zuma was in June sentenced to a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court, which was to be served at the Estcourt Correctional Centre in KwaZulu-Natal.
He was handed the sentence by the Constitutional Court after failing to appear at the state capture inquiry.
“Medical parole placement for Zuma means that he will complete the remainder of the sentence in the system of community corrections, whereby he must comply with a specific set of conditions and will be subjected to supervision until his sentence expires,” said the department.
Many, including politicians, believe the release was a case of history repeating itself, with Zuma joining his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik who was also released from jail on medical parole.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said he would be submitting an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for the records of the parole board that granted Zuma parole.
He said he wants to establish what criteria the department used to determine Zuma's eligibility for medical parole.
“The granting of medical parole to former president Jacob Zuma by the department of correctional services is entirely unlawful and makes a mockery of the correctional matters amendment Act of 2011,” Steenhuisen said.
“A report on the health status of any prisoner must be subject to recommendation by an independent board to confirm, in truth, that a prisoner is indeed deserving of medical parole. Given that Jacob Zuma publicly refused to be examined by an independent medical professional, let alone a medical advisory board, this decision is a violation of the act and therefore unlawful.”
Lobby group AfriForum said it regards Zuma's release as a violation of justice.
“The civil rights organisation is consulting its legal team on the possibility of bringing an urgent review application. The release of Zuma on medical parole is a gross violation of justice that cannot be accepted,” said Ernst Roets, head of policy and action at AfriForum.
One SA Movement (OSA) said it was seeking more transparency from the department of correctional services on how it reached its decision to grant Zuma parole.
OSA said it would also submit a formal application, in terms of the PAIA, requesting the full record that led to the department’s decision. Among the questions it wanted answered was who was on the panel that made the decision, what facts they dealt with and whether there was any political consideration.
“This is crucial to ensure the public is taken into confidence that government’s decision was in good faith, and is furnished with both reasons and rationale behind such a decision,” OSA said.