Former president Jacob Zuma, who is serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court, was hospitalised days after his arrest. File picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS
Former president Jacob Zuma, who is serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court, was hospitalised days after his arrest. File picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS

Jacob Zuma allegedly refused to be examined by NPA medical team: Experts weigh in on this impasse

By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons Time of article published Sep 1, 2021

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Cape Town - Legal expert Willie Spies says refusing to cooperate with an instruction given by a court creates an impression that an individual is hiding something.

This comes as media reports on Tuesday suggested that former president Jacob Zuma had allegedly refused to be examined by a medical team from the National Prosecuting Authority.

Zuma, who is serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court, was hospitalised days after his arrest.

A media report claimed that The Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi accused the State of "second guessing" the medical report produced by the military doctors responsible for Zuma's wellbeing by seeking to have him examined by their own doctors.

“All president Zuma says in all this is that because his name is involved, now all of a sudden, somebody must think that now there’s some shenanigans,” said Manyi.

"They are saying (to the military doctors): we don’t believe you. Your professional integrity means nothing," Manyi said. "What nonsense is this?"

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga declined to respond to Mr Manyi's statement.

“We will deal with this matter in court,” Mhaga told Independent Media.

Manyi, on Tuesday, responded to the claims and said a medical report was submitted to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court and the NPA on Friday.

“The NPA is still dealing with and examining the report to be able to form a view in terms of the way forward. Reports that president Zuma has refused are ahead of us,” Manyi said.

On the consent issue, Manyi’s view is that if Zuma refused to give consent, then it is his constitutional right to do so, and if he doesn’t give it, then that’s the way the story ends.

Judge Piet Koen ordered that the NPA "may grant a medical practitioner of its choice to examine Mr Zuma to assess his ability to stand trial for corruption and for that doctor to be a witness, if necessary".

About two weeks ago, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) confirmed that Zuma underwent a surgical procedure on Saturday, 14 August.

The DCS statement said Zuma was scheduled for more surgery that week.

“As inmates are placed in correctional centres involuntarily, the state has a total and inescapable responsibility and duty to care for them in a manner that does not violate or compromise their constitutional rights, which include access to health care.”

At the time of Zuma’s surgical procedure announcement, the department appealed to the public to refrain from speculating on the health of the former president and allow medical practitioners space to continue providing quality healthcare to him.

Independent Media contacted Manyi post-statement by DCS to enquire about Zuma’s condition, but he declined to respond at the time.

Political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu said the NPA is entitled to want to have access to former president Jacob Zuma’s medical records.

Ndlovu is of the view that the NPA can scrutinise the medical report to ensure that the information provided is not misrepresented. “This medical report by the military doctors could be manipulated in such a way to favour Zuma.

“We have a government who has not done a very good job at governing the country. That is why there may be doubts,” Ndlovu said.

Spies said refusing a situation could result in a court developing a suspicion that an individual is hiding something.

“I think the court will make a finding on whether to accept or not to accept the reports given by Zuma’s medical team. But, if the court is not convinced by that, then I’m of the opinion that the court could make a negative ruling against Zuma.”

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Political Bureau

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