Zuma supporters angered over possible applications for Zuma’s medical records
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DURBAN - FORMER president Jacob Zuma's supporters have expressed outrage and disgust at those who are now allegedly “trying to violate his constitutional rights by seeking access to his medical records”.
Afrikaner right-wing lobby group AfriForum and criminal law commentator Ulrich Roux have come out to proclaim on public platforms that an application to access Zuma's medical records was on the cards.
Roux told Jacaranda FM on Monday that an application to have Zuma's medical records made public could be successful.
AfriForum, on the other hand, said it is considering legal action against the Department of Correctional Services over its decision to release Zuma on medical parole, while the DA is demanding access to the medical reports used to grant parole.
AfriForum lawyers were on Monday preparing legal papers, to be served on Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola and Arthur Fraser, the national commissioner of Correctional Services, in their bid to force them to rescind the parole decision.
The organisation’s head of policy and action Ernst Roets said they are set to serve Correctional Services with a letter of demand, to explain their actions before the end of the weekend.
“We will file papers in court, based on their response to our letter,” Roets said.
This has angered Zuma’s supporters. ANC provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said the party was outraged by people who doubted that Zuma was sick. He said the ANC did not understand why parties were behaving like this.
“We are outraged and disturbed by the DA’s assertion that former president Jacob Zuma may have faked his illness to qualify for parole. It has never happened before that medical records of patients could be accessed by other people except doctors,” said Ntombela.
EFF provincial chairperson Vusi Khoza said the DA’s assertion that Zuma had faked his illness was “the highest form of disrespect for African people because the DA still harboured the view that black people were dishonest and liars”.
Khoza said the party welcomed the parole board’s decision and believed it was taken after state doctors had satisfied themselves that Zuma qualified for release.
“This is disgusting and we are opposed to that nonsense. There was no way that a patient's medical records could be accessed by another person because it always remained confidential – between the doctor and the patient. This smells of racism and it shows that black lives do not matter for white people,” claimed Khoza.
Radical Economic Transformation group leader Nkosenhle Shezi said the DA should not be taken seriously, and they were not shocked to hear the DA doubted that Zuma was ill.
Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi said Zuma was looking forward to reuniting with his family, dismissing rumours that he might opt to stay in prison as a form of protest. He also maintained that Zuma would not divulge his medical records, in line with doctor-patient confidentiality.
Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said he was unsure when Zuma would be released from hospital, but he would not be returning to Estcourt prison, where he served two months of his 15-month sentence. Nxumalo refused to provide the medical parole conditions, saying this was not disclosed to the public.
Meanwhile, plans are already in place to welcome Zuma home. One of his backers Bishop Vusi Dube said they would hold prayers and celebrations to welcome him home, but he was unable to provide all the details because the hospital had not indicated when it would release Zuma.
He said they were expecting him before the end of this week.
Roux conceded that medical records were always deemed to be confidential and should not be disclosed to the public.
However, he then told Jacaranda FM: "In an instance such as this, where it is definitely in the public interest to have knowledge of those medical records, one could expect such an application to make them public by a political party or another interested party."
Black Lawyers Association coastal chairperson Mpumelelo Zikalala told Radio 702 on Monday that the provisions of the Constitution still applied to Zuma, as the former president; however, if one wanted access to his medical records or find out how the medical parole board arrived at its decision, one would have to make an application through the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
DA leader John Steenhuizen said the DA is challenging Zuma’s medical parole. On Monday, Steenhuisen’s personal assistant Charity McCord said the DA would issue a statement on Tuesday that would explain its position.
DA provincial leader Francois Rogers confirmed that their application for information concerned the process followed and was not for access to Zuma’s medical records.