Jacob Zuma Foundation not surprised by mixed reactions to former president’s sentence remission

Former president Jacob Zuma was granted a remission of sentence. File Picture: Timothy Bernard African news Agency (ANA)

Former president Jacob Zuma was granted a remission of sentence. File Picture: Timothy Bernard African news Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 14, 2023


The Jacob Zuma Foundation said it was not surprised at the mixed reaction regarding the special remission programme which allowed for the release of the former president.

Zuma was given a 15-month sentence in June 2021 for refusing to testify at the state capture inquiry. The move sparked violence and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Just under two months into his sentence, he was released on medical parole by former Correctional Services Department commissioner Arthur Fraser.

This decision was challenged and last year the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled that Fraser’s decision to place Zuma on medical parole was unlawful.

The SCA said it was up to the current commissioner to determine whether the time Zuma spent on parole should be considered as part of his sentence.

In July, the Constitutional Court dismissed a bid by the Department of Correctional Services to appeal against the previous SCA ruling leaving the matter again in the hands of the Correctional Services Commissioner.

Acting Correctional Services Commissioner Makgothi Thobakgale on Friday announced that Zuma had been granted the special remission of sentence due to overcrowding at prisons.

More than 9 000 prisoners will be released in line with the special remission granted by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The DA and AfriForum that had taken the Zuma medical parole matter to court, said they would seek legal advice.

Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi said the DA response was not unexpected.

“The former president is not popular in some sectors and any positive development for him is seen as a negative by others.”

DA leader John Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa had used other low-risk offenders as cover for the release of Zuma. AfriForum spokesperson Ernst van Zyl said they would meet their legal team to assess the decision, describing it as “a smokescreen to help powerful ANC politicians escape justice”.

The IFP and the ANC in KZN welcomed Zuma’s release.

IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said: “While we welcome that the decision to release former president Zuma closes the door to more possible unrest, we wish to state clearly that it should not be considered a precedent. Lawlessness and violence – or the threat of violence – must never outweigh the need for justice, accountability and consequences for one’s actions”

The ANC in KZN said it was relieved that this matter which had divided society was now over.

“We are alive to the reality that those opposed to the ANC used this matter to divide the ANC and to cause social instability.”