For former South African President, Jacob Zuma, it is yet another “Long Walk to Freedom” as South Africa’s Supreme Court ruled yesterday, Monday, November 21, that he must return to prison to serve out the remaining of his 15-months jail sentence for contempt of court.
Tell me the story
Following his exit from power in 2018, former president Jacob Zuma was accused of high-level corruption including bribery, fraud, racketeering, and money laundering relating to a $ 2.5 billion deal to buy European military hardware to upgrade South Africa’s armed forces in 1999 when he was deputy president. He was also summoned by a commission of inquiry to defend himself in an accusation of accepting 500,000 Rands annually from a French arms company in a “quid pro quo” agreement to defend the company from being investigated.
Having failed to honour the commission’s invitation to testify in the corruption investigation against him, Zuma was sentenced to a 15-months jail term for contempt of court by a constitutional court in June 2021. Barely two months later, he was released on health grounds and placed under judicial supervision.
Delivering a judgement on Zuma’s appeal on a High Court December 2021 ruling, which had set aside the medical parole decision, the Supreme Court of South Africa said it “considers that Mr. Zuma’s conditional release on medical grounds was contrary to the law”.
“In other words, Mr. Zuma, in law has not finished serving his sentence. He must return to the Escourt Correctional Centre to do so” the court added.
Is that all?
No, the Supreme Court also faulted the Department of Correctional Service’s claim that Jacob Zuma’s prison sentence has ended even though the appeal was being heard.
The court described as “unlawful”, the Department’s initial decision of granting Zuma medical parole against the advice of the Medical Parole Advisory Board.
“On any conceivable basis, the commissioner’s decision was unlawful and unconstitutional. The High court was correct to set it aside. The Presiding Judge ruled.