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Correctional Services boss Arthur Fraser appears to have skipped a step to authorise the former president’s medical parole. (see graphic of these medical conditions below)
Former President Jacob Zuma had to have one or more of 23 specific medical conditions to be granted medical parole and this condition had to have been confirmed by a medical advisory parole board to secure his get-out-of-jail-free card.
But the Department of Correctional Services will neither name nor confirm whether the medical advisory parole board was convened before Zuma’s appeal for parole was granted by Correctional Services Commissioner Arthur Fraser on September 5.
The parole system sets out a detailed rule of law process before medical parole can be granted, as George Aloysius Pillay set out in his Masters’ thesis.
Read against the rapid way in which Zuma’s was granted, it is clear that corners were cut by Fraser, who goes back a long way with the former head of state. Fraser is alleged in reports to have given the so-called ‘spy tapes’ to Zuma which contained details of how his Arms Deal corruption prosecution by the National Prosecuting Authority may have been politically tainted. Later, as DG of the State Security Agency, Fraser commandeered a private intelligence army that served Zuma as the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture has been heard.
Medical parole is granted if the offender is terminally ill or suffers from one of the conditions set out in the graphic, if the risk of reoffending is low, and if there are appropriate post-release conditions for the inmate’s supervision, care and treatment.
Zuma would have had to lodge an application — likely through his team of military doctors or his lawyers — setting out his medical incapacity, which limits his ability to take care of himself or to undertake the normal daily activities of life.
This application must have been approved and recommended by the Estcourt prisons boss (where he was or is still being held) and then submitted to a Medical Parole Advisory Board to recommend the release of the inmate on medical parole.
This is where the story gets murky: the Correctional Services Department would not say who was on the board, if it convened, to hear Zuma’s request or application for parole and what the outcome of its deliberations was. According to Pillay, the board comprises 13 independent medical practitioners who monthly review applications from the country’s 243 prisons. It makes decisions by a majority vote, but the Daily Maverick has been told of concerns that Fraser overrode its decision.
The Medical Parole Advisory Board is guided by the conditions map, we outline here “but may consider any other condition that is not listed” provided it complies with the principles of parole. Only if this board recommends parole can it be granted; a step that Fraser appears to have overridden to help get Zuma home to Nkandla.
Zuma was jailed for being in contempt of court, and the judgment which sent him to prison for 15 months was taken to a rescission hearing. The Constitutional Court has not ruled on the application for rescission of its entire judgment. Correctional Services Department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo did not respond to five requests for information and comment from the Daily Maverick. A source in the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services said all the steps for medical parole had been adhered to.
The infectious conditions for which the Commissioner can grant medical parole are: Aids, severe cerebral malaria, MDR or XDR TB and one other. The non-infectious conditions are several cerebral conditions, including a severe head injury with an altered level of consciousness. It includes COPD, cardiac conditions, malignant cancer and organ failure, and severe rheumatoid arthritis. Until now, Zuma’s social media posts suggest he was in rude health.
The DA announced on September 7 that it is taking the decision to grant Zuma medical parole on review. DM
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