This means that the former head of state won’t be going back to jail until his appeal is heard by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, on a date yet to be determined.
DURBAN – Hours after the Pretoria High Court ruled that the medical parole of former president Jacob Zuma is null and void, his foundation says his lawyers have already delivered an application to appeal “on the grounds that the judgment is clearly wrong”.
This means that the former head of state won’t be going back to jail until the appeal is heard by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, on a date yet to be determined.
On Wednesday, the high court ruled that the medical parole that freed Zuma on September 5, two months into his 15 months’ sentence for contempt of the Constitutional Court, is null and void.
Furthermore, the court ordered that Zuma should be sent back to the dark rooms of Estcourt prison in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands where he was booked for his jail term. In part of its 34-page long judgement, the high court said the decision by former prisons boss, Arthur Fraser, saw Zuma serving three months at home instead of in a cell, as directed by the Constitutional Court.
It also said that reports showed that Zuma was not terminally ill, which was what the parole board, whose decision was overruled by Fraser, had said. That was because Zuma was seen in a meeting in Durban with close supporters, and he also virtually addressed a rally convened by his supporters, also in Durban.
In announcing the appeal which has thrown a spanner in the works, the Jacob Zuma Foundation which the former president is a patron of, said the court had erred and there is the likelihood that another court could reach a different conclusion.
“The learned judge, with respect, erred and/or committed a gross misdirection of fact and/or of law,” reads part of the appeal notice filed promptly after the ruling on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, as the court ruling continued to divide public opinion on Wednesday, Durban-based legal expert advocate Mpumelelo Zikalala, said if Zuma had not appealed, he would have had 10 working days (that is until December 27) from the day of the ruling to surrender himself or see a repeat of what happened in July. That was when a squad of heavily armed police officers was recorded slowly marching to his Nkandla home to nab him, before he decided to surrender to “avoid bloodshed” between his supporters and the State.
Analysing the judgment, Zikalala noted several aspects of it, among them he said the court was right to rule that Fraser was wrong to grant Zuma parole, as he had overruled a group of experts on medical matters who are part of the medical parole board.
“The court was right on that one,” he said.
However, Zikalala differed from the court on its decision to say the time Zuma has spent at home, because of the now nullified parole, should not count. He said by so doing, the court was penalising Zuma for a decision he never took.
“They cannot punish him for a decision which was taken by somebody else… his release from prison was not due to his own decision, but it was because someone decided that he should be released,” Zikalala opined.
He also disagreed with the court’s decision to slap Zuma with costs, as he said it was Fraser who was supposed to bear the legal costs for the matter. According to Zikalala, the only way Zuma could have stated his side regarding the parole was by opposing it and filing affidavits.
He said by doing so, Zuma was not acting in a malicious manner, but wanted the court to hear him out before taking a decision.
Regarding the matter, the ANC at national level said it had noted the judgment and as the Department of Correctional Services was attending to the matter, they would play a waiting game.
This is while the DA which, was one of the parties that approached the court to have the parole nullified, said it welcomed the judgment.