DURBAN - FORMER president Jacob Zuma’s supporters have warned of provocation after the North Gauteng High Court declared his medical parole unlawful.
The court in Pretoria on Wednesday set aside the September Correctional Services decision to grant him medical parole and said he must go to jail to complete his 15-month sentence.
eThekwini councillor Ntando Khuzwayo, who last week led some Zuma supporters to Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, told the Daily News on Thursday that the courts had again provoked Zuma supporters and promised to resist any attempt to return him to jail.
Khuzwayo said the court’s decision to even want him to pay costs was a clear vindication of their long-held view that courts were abusing their power for their own ends against Zuma, adding it was a “bizarre” decision to want someone who came to defend himself to pay costs, as if he was the one who granted himself parole.
He said that Zuma never applied for medical parole and that was done by Correctional Services, which said it did not have the capacity to treat his illness – hence it went to the parole board to argue for his release.
Khuzwayo also questioned the judge’s decision not to count the time Zuma had spent at home as part of his sentence, arguing he was still under supervision by Correctional Services which meant he was still serving his sentence.
“This is a provocation of the highest order which we are going to respond to. This judgment is clearly provoking us and we wish to warn that masses will respond to it. If someone is putting a finger in your eye clearly that person declares war on you,” said Khuzwayo.
Spokesperson for the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Mzwanele Manyi said the former president had already filed his leave to appeal the ruling because his legal team had picked up five points which the court did not consider when making the decision that he must return to jail. He said the foundation and Zuma viewed the decision as “sending him to die in prison”.
One of the points Manyi said the court failed to consider was the locus standi of the applicants, whose decision to want the parole reversed was not based on the course of justice but on racism. The applicants were AfriForum, the Helen Suzman Foundation and the DA. Another strong point Manyi said was picked up by the legal team and which the court ignored was that the Correctional Services commissioner had powers to grant parole to a prisoner serving a sentence of less than 24 months without the board’s approval.
The judgment was also questioned by Black Lawyers Association Coastal’s advocate Mpumelelo Zikalala, who said although the judge may have been right to reverse the parole, asking Zuma to pay costs was highly questionable.
Zikalala said he did not see Zuma succeeding in the appeal because doctors had rejected parole on the basis that he was not terminally ill, but said Zuma was not likely to go back to jail, adding that he would argue that he did not grant himself parole so Correctional Services should take responsibility for it.
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal was the latest to enter the fray, as it now wants the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to grant it permission to join the legal battle to overturn the court’s ruling. The resolution was taken late on Wednesday during a routine three-day meeting of the provincial executive committee (PEC) in Durban.
ANC insiders said the reason why the PEC wants to join the fight as a friend of the court is that they fear that should Zuma be jailed again, there is a possibility that the province will see a renewed wave of violence and looting.
Spokesperson for the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, Nhlakanipho Ntombela, confirmed to Independent Media that they intend to join the legal battle, but the final nod will come from the NEC, which they would meet within the coming days.
“Yes, there is a PEC resolution to ask the NEC to allow it to join the appeal process as friends of the court. The final decision on that will come from the NEC, as the PEC only made a proposal and will present it to the NEC,” Ntombela said.
The former head of Correctional Services, Arthur Fraser has yet to comment on the decision by the North Gauteng High Court to rescind his decision to grant the former head of state parole.
The news of Zuma’s possible imminent return to prison sparked fears of renewed unrest. His arrest in July resulted in civil unrest coupled with mass looting and destruction of property, which cost the economy billions of rands, and led to the death of more than 300 people.
After spending a month in the Estcourt Correctional Facility Zuma was transferred to 1 Military Hospital where he underwent surgery. He was released in early September and the DA and other lobby groups took the decision to court.
Zuma’s son Edward appealed to his father’s supporters to rally behind him to fight the ruling.