Sipho Mabena

By Sipho Mabena

Premium Journalist

Security airtight at Nkandla as Zuma attends brother’s funeral

Zuma is allowed to eulogise his brother during the funeral, but is not allowed to veer off the programme to make any public statements.

The Correctional services department has flatly refused to disclose security details around jailbird Jacob Zuma as he attends the funeral of his brother and how long he was out for due to security concerns.

“That information cannot be divulged as it is operational and may compromise the safety of the in-mate. Possible threats have to be taken into consideration,” spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said on Thursday.

ALSO READ: Correctional Services mum on how long Zuma will be free

But, taking into account Zuma’s profile and the violent events of last week in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, security was expected to be tight.

Before the former president’s arrival at his homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, where the funeral service of his younger brother Michael was to take place, members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) reportedly searched vehicles at the entrance.

Though the department said Zuma was allowed to eulogise his brother during the funeral, he was not allowed to veer off the programme to make any public statements.

But Nxumalo admitted that they would have no control of what Zuma says once he was on the podium.

“What do you do? Run to him and grab the microphone?” he asked.

The JG Foundation said the media was not allowed in the precinct of the funeral service, including the burial site ,and requested that the family’s wishes be respected.

Media barred

Zuma is serving a 15-months contempt of court imprisonment at the Estcourt correctional facility in the province for failing to abide by the Constitutional Court order ordering him to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.

As a short-term and low-risk classified inmate, Zuma, whose incarceration sparked violent riots that resulted in the death of over 270 people, billions of Rands in property destruction and looting, applied, and was granted was granted compassionate leave to attend his brother’s funeral. 

ALSO READ: Pro-Zuma protests leave six dead and over 200 people arrested

Zia Wasserman, Sonke Gender Justice’s National Prisons Coordinator, said security around Zuma would be heavy due to potential risk, and warned that the funeral itself may become a rallying point for his supporters – similar to the crowds gathered at Nkandla in the days leading up to this arrest.

“I certainly think that we will see a large police and correctional services security contingent accompanying the former president to Nkandla, as well as a large police presence at Nkandla itself on the day,” she said.