JOHANNESBURG: Mr Zuma was released on medical parole two months into his 15-month sentence.
South Africa’s president, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa has defended the release of his predecessor, Mr Jacob Zuma, from jail by using his presidential powers to remit Mr Zuma’s sentence.
During the president’s question time in the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Mr John Steenhuisen, accused the African National Congress (ANC) of again snubbing the rule of law.
Mr Zuma was released last month after returning to the Estcourt Correctional Centre for just two hours after being ordered by the court to complete his contempt of court sentence, for which he was previously released on medical parole.
“The law has taken its course with regards to the former president Zuma. The national commissioner has taken a decision and that decision was not interfered with, neither did we meddle with it,” the Justice and Correctional Services minister told the press at the time.
“The former leader immediately benefited from a remission of non-violent offenders approved by Mr Ramaphosa,” Minister Ronald Lamola said.
The constitutional provision used to set Mr Zuma free will benefit over 9,000 criminals.
“About 6,500 of these criminals will go back to criminality and you know it. Do you feel comfortable Mr President that innocent citizens will now suffer, just because you again put the interest of the ANC ahead of the rule of law?”
Mr Ramaphosa was curt in his response, saying he’d done nothing untoward.
“It was not in contravention of our Constitution, it was very much in line with what our Constitution says,” Mr Ramaphosa said.
The decision to return Mr Zuma to prison followed a Supreme Court of Appeal judgment that upheld a Gauteng High Court ruling that releasing him from jail on medical parole in 2021 was unlawful and unconstitutional.
However, the court left to Correctional Services Commissioner, Mr Makhothi Thobakgale the decision of whether Mr Zuma should return to jail or have his time under medical parole considered as time served.
Mr Zuma was jailed in 2021 for defying a Constitutional Court order to appear before a commission of inquiry investigating allegations of corruption during his tenure as president from 2009 to 2018.
He was released on medical parole two months into his 15-month sentence.
Then correctional services commissioner Mr Arthur Fraser, a known ally of the former president, authorized Mr Zuma’s release on medical parole.
The Jacob Zuma Foundation has argued at the time that Mr Zuma served his sentence as he was under correctional supervision while on medical parole.