Legal threats over Jacob Zuma’s medical parole
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Johannesburg - AfriForum is considering legal action against the Department of Correctional Services for its decision to release former president Jacob Zuma on medical parole while the DA is demanding access to medical reports used to grant parole.
AfriForum lawyers were on Monday still preparing legal papers to be served to Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola and National Commissioner Arthur Fraser 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 the 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.
Equally aggrieved was Pieter Groenewald, leader of the Freedom Front Plus, who said that the decision to release Zuma on parole came as no surprise to his party saying it was due to the fact that Zuma served most of his prison sentence in the hospital wing of the Estcourt Correctional Services Centre proved that he was receiving preferential treatment.
“The FF Plus warned against a rehash of the Schabir Shaik case, where hospitalisation and an alleged serious disease served as an easy way to avoid serving his prison sentence.
“It is abundantly clear that what transpired with Zuma is indeed a rehash of the Shaik-method to avoid punishment.
“This apparent custom of special treatment for some is undermining the country's criminal justice system,” he said.
Groenewald said Fraser’s powers and functions must be reviewed saying he seemed to wield the authority to decide who may be released on parole, as is “evident in the Zuma case”.
He said his party wanted to see that an independent medical assessment was done to confirm Zuma's alleged medical condition.
“Medical parole is predominantly granted to persons suffering from a terminal illness to afford them the opportunity to spend the final phases of their condition at home surrounded by their loved ones. For Shaik, it was merely a free pass to play golf and enjoy his freedom. It will be unacceptable if Zuma is granted the same easy way out,” Groenewald said.
Now the DA and Cope have urged its members to summon Fraser to appear before the portfolio committee on correctional services to explain to Parliament his decision to grant Zuma parole.
DA leader John Steenhuisen also said he would make an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for the records of the Parole Board to establish what criteria the Department of Correctional Services used to determine Zuma’s eligibility for medical parole.
“The granting of medical parole to former president Jacob Zuma by the Department of Correctional Services is entirely unlawful and makes a mockery of the Correctional Matters Amendment Act of 2011.
“Following the debacle around the granting of unlawful medical parole to Schabir Shaik in 2009, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services unanimously supported the amendment of Section 79 of the Act to stipulate that:
“The minister must establish a medical advisory board to provide an independent medical report to the National Commissioner, Correctional Supervision and Parole Board or the Minister, as the case may be, in addition to the medical report referred to in subsection (2)(c).”
Steenhuisen said that an amendment was made to specifically ensure that the legislation could not be manipulated into granting parole on medical grounds to any prisoner not deserving of it, “as was done for Schabir Shaik”.