Former president Jacob Zuma was granted compassionate leave to attend his younger brother Michael’s burial. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Former president Jacob Zuma was granted compassionate leave to attend his younger brother Michael’s burial. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Jacob Zuma back in his prison cell after burying younger brother Michael in Nkandla

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Jul 23, 2021

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Durban - It is back to his Estcourt prison cell for former president Jacob Zuma, after making a brief stopover in Nkandla to bury his younger brother Michael Zuma.

Returning home for the first time since he was sentenced to a 15-month prison sentence for contempt of the court after he applied to the Department of Correctional Services for compassionate leave, Zuma was only seen by a few as the Zuma family, led by Edward Zuma and the Umkhonto we Sizwe veterans, who have been guarding the home since March, increased its surveillance and stop-and-search processes.

By Thursday morning, only a few vehicles and mourners were allowed to pass through the checkpoint, set up hundreds of metres from Michael’s home, where the funeral was taking place. Michael’s home is near Zuma’s Nkandla home.

At around 10am, Zuma’s presidential protection services convoy drove him the short distance to his brother’s home.

A few metres from the home, there was another checkpoint where passing cars were scrutinised before being allowed to proceed through the last stretch of the gravel road.

Among the high-profile mourners at the funeral was KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala, who had sent his condolences when news of Michael’s death broke.

Some mourners came in high-end SUVs with Gauteng registration plates, and other mourners were driven and escorted in black SUVs with the registrations of KwaZulu-Natal towns like Empangeni (NUF), Eshowe (NES), Krankskop (NKK), Impendle (NIM) and Pietermaritzburg (NP).

During the funeral, there was high police and army visibility across the area. Both security forces had set up a roadblock, a few kilometres from the piece of land occupied by the Zumas in Nkandla, searching all passing cars amid expectations that Zuma's supporters would swarm the area and turn the funeral into a political rally, to demand his release from prison.

By noon, no supporters were seen near the home.

Police vehicles and officers were seen moving in and out of Michael’s home, while others were stationed in front of Zuma’s home, keeping a watchful eye.

As per the centuries-old Nguni tradition, locals, young and old, streamed into Michael’s home. Some of them were carrying fresh wood to be used inside the grave, to prevent the soil from reaching the coffin before they cover the grave.

Other mourners were seen moving into the home carrying goats and other food items, as is done when a fellow villager is mourning and has to be supported with whatever their neighbours can afford.

The Jacob Zuma Foundation later issued a statement saying the media was not allowed in the precinct of the funeral service, including the burial place.

"The Zuma Family wants to mourn and lay to rest their loved one in privacy. The foundation is requesting you all to please respect the wishes of the family," read the statement.

Speaking shortly after the end of the private funeral proceedings of the late Michael Zuma, Zikalala said Jacob Zuma was in good spirits.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala attended the funeral of Michael Zuma, younger brother of former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Additionally, Zikalala applauded the Department of Correctional Services for granting Zuma the permission to leave his Estcourt prison cell, where he is serving 15 months for contempt of court, and come home to bury his brother, saying burying a loved one is very important.

When pressed whether, while briefing meeting with Zuma after the funeral, they discussed the issue of the presidential pardon and how far that matter was, he passed the matter to the national government.

“I think it is better to leave those matters (presidential pardon) to authorities that are eligible to process that. We have made our point here and we have made our submission in terms of engagement, and I think it is better that the authorities such as the minister (of correctional services) and the presidency comment on this,” he said.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has constantly been on Zuma’s case, pleading with President Cyril Ramaphosa and Correctional Services Minister Ronaldo Lamola to consider granting Zuma a pardon.

On July 16, while visiting Bridge City mall in KwaMashu, north of Durban, Ramaphosa said the issue of a presidential pardon was being given consideration.

“We are giving considerations to all the issues and the proposals that are being put forward to us. Until then, let us leave the matter where it is,” Ramaphosa said.’

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Political Bureau

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