Three weeks later – and Zuma remains out of prison

Issued by Adv. Glynnis Breytenbach MP – DA Shadow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development
03 Aug 2023 in News
  • The Department of Correctional Services has delayed announcing a timeline for Zuma’s return to prison, causing anxiety and raising doubts about the strength of the nation’s judicial system.
  • The DA demands that Zuma immediately returns to Estcourt Correctional Centre to serve the remainder of his 15-month sentence.
  • We will take further action if necessary to ensure justice is served and court orders are upheld. 

The DA notes that former president Jacob Zuma has now returned to South Africa after his lengthy stay in Russia. This follows the adverse Constitutional Court judgement which dismissed the Department of Correctional Service’s (DCS) application for leave to appeal the Supreme Court of Appeal’s (SCA) ruling that Zuma must return to prison as his early release on medical parole was unlawful.

Given that DCS provided Mr. Zuma and other interested parties an opportunity to make submissions on his return to prison until tomorrow, and that Mr. Zuma is now back within South Africa, and seemingly healthy, there is little standing in the way of the Department enforcing the court order and announcing a timeline to ensure Mr. Zuma’s return to prison to serve out the remainder of his fifteen-month sentence.

Mr. Zuma was first sentenced to a 15-month prison sentence in June 2021, when he defied a court order to appear at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into allegations of state capture. Jacob Zuma’s subsequent unlawful release on medical parole dashed the hopes of many South Africans who wished to see accountability and the principle of equality before the law upheld.

The National Commissioner of Correctional Services, Mr Makgothi Thobakgale has now dithered for 3 weeks on deciding when Mr. Zuma must return to prison, following the Constitutional Court order on 13 July. This delay is unacceptable, as anxiety across the nation continues to rise as clarity on the details of former President Zuma’s return to prison remains unforthcoming. In addition, this continued delay is casting unnecessary doubt over the strength of our nation’s judicial system.

The DA believes that the delay in announcing the return of Mr. Zuma to prison is untenable, and he must immediately return to Estcourt Correctional Centre to continue serving the remainder of his term without further delay. Should the Department of Correctional Services make a final decision that is illegal or irregular, the DA will not hesitate to take further necessary action to ensure that justice is served and the order of the Constitutional Court and SCA is upheld.

South Africans have waited for far too long to see accountability brought upon powerful ANC politicians, who act with impunity and a lack of respect for the justice system. The principle of equality before the law must now be upheld. We urge Commissioner Thobakgale to make a decision with the urgency this moment requires.