Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen said the Department of Correctional Services’ (DCS) decision to grant former President Jacob Zuma medical parole “makes a mockery of South African law”.
“[It] is entirely unlawful and makes a mockery of the Correctional Matters Amendment Act of 2011”.
Steenhuisen said an independent board should have confirmed if the patient in question – in this case, Zuma – was indeed deserving of medical parole.
Zuma’s parole under scrutiny
This would have been impossible to confirm, considering that Zuma refused to consent to a medical examination. The DCS also failed to disclose if Zuma met the following criteria:
- The prisoner must suffer from a terminal illness or be rendered physically incapacitated due to injury, disease or illness;
- The risk of re-offending must be low; and
- There must be appropriate arrangements for care in the community to which the prisoner is to be released.
Without a report from an independent board and the DCS clarifying these three points, Steenhuisen says the medical parole is in violation of the Correctional Matters Amendment Act.
“Simply being of an advanced age does not qualify”.
Pulling a Shaik
He likened it to Schabir Shaik’s unlawful medical parole in 2009, which resulted in an amendment of Section 79 of the Act, supported by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services.
The amendment states the minister must “establish a medical advisory board to provide an independent medical report […], in addition to the medical report referred to in subsection (2)(c).”
He said the Democratic Alliance will request records and proof that due diligence was followed in the board’s granting of Zuma’s medical parole.
The DCS’ announcement
The DCS on Sunday announced Zuma had been placed on medical parole in terms of Section 75(7)(a) of the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998.
Spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said: “Apart from being terminally ill and physically incapacitated, inmates suffering from an illness that severely limits their daily activity or self-care can also be considered for medical parole.”
Nxumalo said Zuma’s medical parole placement means that he will complete the remainder of his sentence “in the system of community corrections”.
The former president is obligated to comply with a specific set of conditions and will be subjected to supervision until his sentence expires.
Additional reporting by Molefe Seeletsa.