The Pretoria High Court setting aside former president Jacob Zuma’s medical parole and ordering him to return to prison is “nothing but political revenge”.
That is the view of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) spokesperson Vuyani Pambo.
“Arresting Zuma is nothing but political revenge. If the law must serve the purpose of rehabilitation or bringing order to society, what is the purpose of arresting Zuma again? Why is Zuma a threat to society or what need is there to rehabilitate him? It’s the malicious use of the law. The point is that he must be corrected and in this case, it looks like there is a clear mandate to punish as opposed to correct,” Pambo told the SABC.
Earlier on Wednesday, Judge Elias Matojane ruled that the decision of former national commissioner of correctional services Arthur Fraser to place Zuma on medical parole in September was unlawful. Matojane also ordered that the former president should return to jail to serve out the remainder of his 15-month sentence imposed by the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).
The Jacob Zuma Foundation announced that the former president’s legal team has delivered his application for leave to appeal the judgment.
The foundation said Zuma was appealing “on the grounds that the judgment is clearly wrong and there are strong prospects that a higher court will come to a totally different conclusion”.
One of Zuma’s closest allies Carl Niehaus told The Citizen the ruling demonstrated the “vindictiveness” of the judiciary and should be opposed by concerned citizens.
“We are outraged by this decision because we believe that [former] president Zuma has been once again treated grossly unfairly. This indicates to us that he is continuing to be victimised.
“We call on all concerned citizens – who want to see a legal and a justice system that is not biased and concentrating on certain people and leaving other people off the hook – we call on them to be opposed to his return to jail,” Niehaus said.
‘Clear and unambiguous’
However, Lawson Naidoo, the Executive Secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) told SABC that the judgment was “clear and unambiguous”.
“The law says that the Medical Parole Advisory Board is the final arbiter of whether or not medical parole should be granted and the the national commissioner of correctional services had no lawful authority to second guess the decision of the parole board,” said Naidoo.
Lawson also said Zuma’s decision to appeal the judgment is “no surprise”.
“We’ve become accustomed to this over the last 12 or 15 years, where Mr Zuma has used every legal trick in the book to avoid justice,” he said.
‘Waste of time’
AfriForum’s head of policy and action Ernst Roets said they will oppose Zuma’s appeal.
“We are convinced that this appeal is a waste of time and resources. There’s not a reasonable chance that it will succeed so we’re going to argue that the appeal shouldn’t be heard in the first place,” Roets said.
Roets dismissed the arguments of Zuma and his supporters that he has been unfairly treated by the courts.
“People who are in jail or who are going to jail will always find creative arguments as to why they have been mistreated by the justice system. Obviously Zuma would say that and obviously someone like Carl Niehaus would rush to his defence.
“That doesn’t change the fact that he did commit a crime and there was a court proceeding that found him in contempt of court… and it doesn’t change the fact that the requirements for medical parole was not complied with, which is why this decision to release him from prison was unlawful,” added Roets.
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen also welcomed the court’s judgment.
He said the court demonstrated that it didn’t matter if one was a former president or an ordinary citizen, “the rules apply to everybody and that’s how it should be in a democracy”.
“We are very glad that the court has agreed with our views that the granting of that medical parole was irregular and unlawful and has now set it aside.
“I think this is a major victory for principle for quality before the law because we all knew that Mr Fraser was doing a favour to Mr Zuma and it wasn’t based on any medical grounds or in law,” Steenhuisen said.
Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe