The civil rights organisation AfriForum was in the Northern Gauteng High Court today after the organisation approached the court in September with an urgent application to review the lawfulness of the decision by Arthur Fraser, former National Commissioner of Correctional Services, to grant former-president Jacob Zuma medical parole.
AfriForum contended that Fraser’s decision was unlawful and must be put aside, with Zuma to be returned to the custody of the Department of Correctional Services to serve out the rest of his sentence.
AfriForum sent Fraser an urgent lawyer’s letter on 5 September, shortly after Zuma’s release, in his capacity as National Commissioner of Correctional Services, wherein the organisation requested answers regarding Zuma’s release. The following information was specifically requested:
- Whether Zuma suffers from a terminal disease that justifies his medical parole.
- If Zuma was not diagnosed with a terminal disease, particulars of the injury, disease or illness which justified medical parole must be divulged .
- Given Zuma’s well publicised refusal to be examined by medical doctors appointed by the National Prosecution Authority, despite clear provisions by the KwaZulu-Natal High Court, full particulars are required as to how Fraser came to the conclusion that there is no risk that Zuma will transgress again.
- A copy of the application for medical parole, in the prescribed format, which was considered by Fraser.
- A copy of the medical report recommending that Zuma be placed on medical parole.
Ernst Roets, Head of Policy and Action at AfriForum, says that this is a matter of national importance and that it is a shame if people are treated favourably on the basis of their political prestige.
“There can be no room in the criminal justice system for double standards that give special treatment to politicians and other dignitaries when it comes to serving sentences. Justice must also be done in this matter so that the public does not further lose confidence in the system. AfriForum does not have a problem with Zuma’s medical release if it is true that he is terminally ill or in any other way complies with the provisions of the law. However, the actions and rulings of the Department of Correctional Services indicate that political interference is involved here. Media reports shortly after Zuma’s release speculating on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s involvement in the decision also further confirmed that the president is not serious about tackling and stopping corruption and crime in government and the ruling party, and that the current president still places his fellow ANC cadres above the law and the country,” Roets concludes.