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Calls for state to show compassion and allow Zuma to attend brother’s funeral

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Department of Correctional Services says Zuma has not applied for compassionate leave to attend his brother’s funeral.

Former president Jacob Zuma. File picture

THERE are growing calls from different quarters for the state to be compassionate and allow former president Jacob Zuma to attend his brother Michael Zuma’s funeral, which will be held in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.

The South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights said Zuma had the right to attend his brother’s funeral.

The organisation’s president, Golden Miles Bhudu, said the former president should be treated like any other South African and be granted the right to bury his loved ones.

Bhudu criticised statements claiming that Zuma making a public appearance could lead to further protests in the country.

“He is doing a lousy sentence. He must apply to go to the funeral; they should not deny him to go and bury his brother. I don’t think there will be a problem with him going there. If there are problems, he is the former president and he can call out those who want to make trouble,” Bhudu said.

He added that the organisation would be following up on Zuma’s incarceration to ensure that his rights as a prisoner are protected.

“We as an organisation have an interest in his incarceration, the conditions, the medical treatment and study material. The former president is not an ordinary man,” Bhudu said.

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) said it would be appropriate for the former president to attend his brother’s funeral. The secretary-general of the SACC, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, said there were also discussions to provide the Zuma family with pastoral support and counselling.

Mpumlwana said he had been assured that a pastor from the Congregational Church was providing support to the family.

“The family are going through so much difficulty that we are working with pastors on the ground. It would be nice if he could go to his brother’s funeral. It would be a good gesture. I can’t imagine that there would be people that would attack and remove the prison warders,” Mpumlwana said.

He hoped the prison system would be able to grant Zuma compassionate leave and still ensure that no laws are broken.

Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said Zuma had not applied for compassionate leave to attend his brother’s funeral. But he said Zuma was not a flight risk.

“That application has yet to be presented to us by the former president. There are a number of variables that the centre will look into. After that they will then make a decision. You have to be in civilian clothes and you have to be monitored. The former president is classified as low risk,” Nxumalo said.

The spokesperson for the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Mzwanele Manyi, said the foundation was still consulting with the family to find out if Zuma would be applying to attend his brother’s funeral.

Meanwhile, The Pietermaritzburg High Court judgment that granted Zuma a three-week delay in his arms deal trial left advocate Dali Mpofu smiling as Judge Piet Koen delivered his judgment virtually on Tuesday.

The matter was adjourned to sit from August 10 to 13.

While the directive for a virtual sitting remained in effect, Judge Koen invited the lawyers, the National Prosecuting Authority and Correctional Services Department to provide a list of any considerations or prejudice which they considered relevant to his decision on whether the matter should be held virtually or not.

However, Judge Koen limited the parties to submitting a list “in point form and not exceeding two pages of double-spaced typing”.

“The directive of 15 July 2021, that the hearing of the special plea will proceed by way of virtual hearing, shall continue to apply unless revoked or revised as listed,” he said.

He said the list must be compiled with reference to the circumstances that were anticipated to prevail from August 9 – a day before the matter is set down to be heard at the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

He said the list of considerations must be sent to the registrar on or before August 2, and should there be any revision, it would be communicated with the parties by August 4.