As former president Jacob Zuma receives medical treatment for an undisclosed illness in Russia, the National Department of Correctional Services (DCS) here at home is seeking legal advice on the next steps, following the Constitutional Court’s ruling on Thursday upheld the Supreme Court of Appeal’s order that Zuma’s medical parole by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) was invalid.
Zuma only served two months of his 15-month sentence on a contempt charge, initially handed down in June 2021. Then DCS commissioner Arthur Fraser issued the parole, citing medical reasons. Fraser’s successor, Makgothi Thobakgale, has since told the media that the two months Zuma spent in jail is sufficient.
The Constitutional Court sentenced Zuma in June 2021 in an unprecedented case after finding him in contempt of its earlier order compelling him to appear before the state capture commission in 2020. The commission had brought an urgent application before the court in an effort to get Zuma to appear before it to answer to allegations made by several witnesses since its hearings began in 2018. It listed 31 witnesses who had, during that time, made allegations against Zuma, for which the commission sought answers.
Although he did make an appearance in July 2019 – after a whole week had been blocked out for his evidence to be heard – Zuma only made it through a day and a half’s worth of testimony before his legal representatives withdrew him as a witness, citing bias from the commission’s evidence leader, Advocate Paul Pretorius.
He would later appear briefly again in November 2020, only to make an application for commission chairperson Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to recuse himself on the basis of their personal relationship spanning decades. Zondo not only refuted the claim from Zuma that they had a personal relationship, but he also dismissed the recusal application, prompting Zuma’s famous walk-out of proceedings, never to return before the commission.
Further attempts by the commission to get him back failed, until Zondo made the Constitutional Court application through the commission’s secretariat, for the court to hear arguments for the case compelling Zuma to give evidence.