The release of former president Jacob Zuma from prison on medical parole has sparked a major debate and South Africans did not hold back their thoughts on the news. While Zuma supporters have welcomed the development, others are outraged and claim he took a page out of Schabir Shaik’s book, his former financial advisor.
Schabir Shaik served just two years of his 15-year sentence for fraud and corruption before being granted medical parole in 2009.
The department of correctional services last week placed Zuma on medical parole after it received a medical report from the former president.
Zuma was in June sentenced to a 15-month jail term for contempt of court having failed to appear at the state capture inquiry.
“Medical parole placement for Zuma means that he will complete the remainder of the sentence in the system of community corrections, whereby he must comply with a specific set of conditions and will be subjected to supervision until his sentence expires,” said the department.
Many South Africans, including politicians, believe the release was a case of history repeating itself, with Zuma joining his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik who was also released from jail on medical parole.
Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen called the parole is ‘entirely unlawful’ and makes mockery of the correctional matters amendment Act of 2011.
Lobby group AfriForum said it regards Zuma’s release as a violation of justice and they will be an urgent review of the medical parole.
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the release on medical parole of his predecessor, Jacob Zuma. “We welcome this” and “wish him a speedy recovery as he returns home to his loved ones,” Ramaphosa said in a televised press briefing after a meeting of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
Lawson Naidoo, head of a civic group, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, said it is rather the result of “a criminal justice system that treats the most powerful with gloves and allows them to escape justice.