Helen Suzman Foundation wants minister Lamola to explain why Zuma was given medical parole

A decision to grant former president Jacob Zuma medical parole has ruffled feathers.
A decision to grant former president Jacob Zuma medical parole has ruffled feathers.
Image: Lulama Zenzile

The Helen Suzman Foundation has unleashed its lawyers on correctional services minister Ronald Lamola, demanding answers on why former president Jacob Zuma was given medical parole.

The foundation has given Lamola until September 13 at 5pm to respond.

The department of correctional services earlier this week announced that Zuma, who was initially jailed for 15 months after he was found guilty of contempt of court for failure to comply with an order of the Constitutional Court to honour a summons to appear before the Zondo commission, would serve the remainder of his 15-month sentence in court.

The Helen Suzman Foundation's list of demands, dated September 6, came after it was reported that national commissioner of correctional services Arthur Fraser had overruled the Medical Parole Advisory Board to grant Zuma parole.

In an interview on SABC on Wednesday evening, Fraser confirmed that he overruled the medical board to grant Zuma the medical parole.

He said the advisory board had turned down Zuma’s application after examination.

Fraser said he exercised his power in terms of the law. He said his decision is legal procedural and would stand to scrutiny with documentation to whoever needs it.

Fraser added that the board had indicated that Zuma was in a stable condition after examination.

Webber Wentzel, which represents the Helen Suzman Foundation, said its client was concerned that the rule of law was upheld in all spheres, including the essential fight against corruption and organised crime mandated by the constitution.

"The decision to place Mr Zuma on medical parole is shrouded in secrecy; it seems to be based on a medical report - the details of which are entirely concealed from the public; and has been made in circumstances where it is reported that Mr Zuma has refused, despite an order by the honourable Mr Justice Koen, in separate proceedings in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court to subject him to an independent medical examination. 

"These circumstances give rise to concerns about the rule of law," writes Webber Wentzel partner Pooja Dela.

Dela demands Lamola to, among other things, provide the full written reasons for giving Zuma medical parole, "a copy of any documents or information which formed the basis of, or which were considered in the taking of, the decision, including but not limited, to any application for parole by Mr Zuma and the medical report (of the correctional services department)".

The foundation warned that should Lamola fail to deliver the requested information timeously or should the information/documentation not negate the foundation's concerns about the lawfulness or otherwise of the decision, the foundation will have no option but to assume that there was no lawful basis for the decision and to exercise its legal rights, in its interest and in the public interest, on an urgent basis.

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