The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has called for calm amid fears of unrest emanating from former president Jacob Zuma’s ordered return to prison.
The High Court in Pretoria ruled this week Zuma should serve out the remainder of the 15-month sentence imposed by the Constitutional Court.
Justice Elias Matojane ruled former national commissioner of correctional services Arthur Fraser’s decision to place Zuma on medical parole in September was unlawful.
The department of correctional services and the Jacob G Zuma Foundation confirmed they would appeal the high
court’s judgment at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.
The 8 to 19 July riots in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng resulted in more than 330 people losing their lives, with the violence ostensibly being triggered by Zuma’s imprisonment.
With disgruntled pro-Zuma supporters livid about the ruling, SAHRC said it was concerned about posts on social media that may result in unrest.
“The commission also notes that the social media is already abuzz with statements that have the potential to inflame the situation in the country. Some statements have been made on public news media which can have the same effect,” it said.
The commission, which conducted public hearings into the July riots, “would like to remind the South African public that the former president, like any other citizen, has the right to take the recent decision of the high court on appeal or review for different sets of judges to look at and pronounce on the soundness and validity thereof”.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said the justice, crime prevention and security cluster (JCPS) was on high alert as they had “learnt their lessons” and had made “the preparations that the responses and reactions are much better this time”.
The police and JCPS ministers were criticised for the handling of the July unrest, with President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledging government was unprepared.