PRETORIA – Advocate Dali Mpofu told the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein that his client, former President Jacob Zuma suffers from a terminal illness and his medical records cannot be revealed as he is a former head of state.
He said his medical records were naturally classified.
Mpofu is representing Zuma in his medical parole hearing.
Zuma was granted medical parole after he was hospitalised days after he handed himself in July 2021 after the Constitutional Court found him guilty for contempt of court and was to serve 15 months in prison.
He was then granted medical parole by former correctional services commissioner Arthur Fraser, after being admitted to hospital just a few days after his arrest.
Fraser released Zuma even though the medical parole board found that Zuma didn’t qualify for medical parole.
One of his reasons was that he feared the same unrest that followed his imprisonment in July 2021 would occur if the former president should die behind bars.
Mpofu argued that Zuma suffered from an unspecified condition that "carries significant risk to his life“.
He further argued that it would be wrong for the court to decide that the appeal should fail because Zuma failed to disclose his medical record.
He also added that Zuma had threatened to sue the Department of Correctional Services if it disclosed his medical records.
However, Zuma refused to grant their lawyers that limited access, which led the organisations to demand a redacted record of Fraser's decision.
The organisation held that Zuma could only qualify for a medical parole if he was suffering from a terminal illness or condition, or if he was physically incapacitated as a result of injury, disease or illness so as to severely limit daily activity or inmate self-care.
Throughout his argument, Mpofu maintained that Zuma’s health wasn’t in the best of shapes and he wouldn’t get the best care if he returned to prison.
“Medical experts have said that the man is suffering from a terminal disease. The prison is not fully equipped to cater for his needs. Like everyone else, Mr Zuma is also entitled to his constitutional rights.”
He further added that Fraser was entitled to consider the fact that Zuma was a former president which makes him entitled to receive 24-hour medical care.
“Zuma is not like other people,” he argued.
He said claims that Fraser acted with bias because he was Zuma's former spy boss were "concocted", but to prove that Zuma indeed qualified for the parole, the current commissioner could make a fresh determination.
Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi, who also attended the proceedings, told eNCA there was a lot of evidence that Zuma qualified for medical parole.
"This is not hearsay, it is in black and white… the Medical Parole Advisory Board took a ‘political decision’ not to recommend medical parole, and the former correctional services commissioner had to ensure that there was a lawful decision,“ he said.
Judgment was reserved.