The South African Court of Appeal sends Zuma back to prison

The South African Court of Appeal sends Zuma back to prison


An appeals court in South Africa said Monday that former President Jacob Zuma was illegally released from prison last year and should return to prison to complete his sentence.

Zuma, 80, had been sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court in June 2021, a move that sparked deadly riots.

But he only served two months before being paroled on medical grounds that are still unclear.

Probation was granted by the head of the South African Prisons Service, despite an opinion from the service’s medical committee that Zuma did not meet the necessary conditions.

“This court has now found that Mr. Zuma’s release on medical parole was unlawful,” the Supreme Court of Appeals said.

“Mr. Zuma has not yet completed his sentence. He must return to Estcourt Correctional Center for this,” it said, referring to a prison northwest of the city of Durban.

According to the medical reports cited in the appeals court’s decision, Zuma has problems related to high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels and lesions in the colon.

Zuma, a prominent figure in the fight against apartheid, became president in 2009 and was forced to resign from the ANC in 2018 after mounting corruption allegations.

But he remains a revered figure among grassroots members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), who see him as a defender of the poor and oppressed.

When his prison sentence was announced, violent protests erupted, escalating into looting and killing 350 people.

The Supreme Court of Appeals order is unlikely to be the final word in the long-running story, as Zuma can still appeal to the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest judicial authority.

Prison authorities announced last month that Zuma’s 15-month sentence has now formally expired.

Since then he has made several public appearances, singing and dancing in front of his supporters and verbally attacking his successor Cyril Ramaphosa, accusing him of bribery and treason.

Ramaphosa faces a crucial ANC conference next month and is seeking re-election at a time when he’s under pressure over claims he’s been hiding a multimillion-dollar cash heist at his luxury farmhouse.

Zuma was jailed for refusing to testify in a high-level investigation into the massive state corruption that unfolded under his presidency.

He also faces separate corruption charges over a gun deal dating back more than two decades.

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