JOHANNESBURG — Former South African President Jacob Zuma was taken again to jail on Friday after his parole was dominated invalid, solely to be launched once more inside two hours beneath a brand new program to scale back overcrowding in jails.
The transfer raised extra questions over whether or not the 81-year-old is receiving preferential therapy to keep away from serving out a 15-month sentence for contempt of court docket.
The remissions program was licensed by President Cyril Ramaphosa and made public for the primary time Friday. Whereas it goals to launch greater than 9,400 inmates from jail and put them beneath correctional supervision at residence, Zuma seemed to be the primary to learn from it.
Zuma reported to the Estcourt Correctional Centre within the Kwa-Zulu Natal province at 6 a.m., ostensibly to serve the remaining 13 months of his sentence. However he was launched a while after 7 a.m. when his remission was processed, mentioned Makgothi Thobakgale, the performing nationwide commissioner of the corrections division.
Zuma later arrived again at his rural Nkandla property in a convoy of black SUVs, based on video broadcast by South African media.
“Shock, shock, he’s the primary beneficiary of a model new coverage,” mentioned John Steenhuisen, the chief of South Africa’s most important opposition celebration, the Democratic Alliance. “This can be a cynical manipulation of the justice system.”
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola mentioned President Ramaphosa had taken the choice to “remit the sentence” of his predecessor beneath the constitutional authority he has to remit the sentence of “any offender at any time.”
“The president’s choice is to remit sentences of offenders throughout the nation. It isn’t a particular choice about former president Zuma. It’s about all of the offenders throughout the nation,” Lamola mentioned.
Friday’s twist continued a two-year authorized wrangle over Zuma’s sentence. He was despatched to jail in July 2021 for defying a court docket order to testify at a corruption inquiry, however was launched on medical parole having served simply two months.
That medical parole was then dominated invalid, forcing South Africa’s Division of Corrections to make a brand new name on whether or not Zuma ought to return to jail to serve the excellent 13 months or whether or not his time on medical parole ought to rely as him having served his sentence.
As an alternative, the corrections division went for neither. Together with Zuma within the newly introduced remissions program to ease jail congestion was considered as a fudge by some to keep away from the form of violent unrest that erupted in South Africa the primary time Zuma was despatched to jail.
In 2021, greater than 350 folks died in a few of the worst violence the nation has seen for the reason that last days of apartheid within the late Nineteen Eighties and early Nineteen Nineties, as rioting swept throughout Zuma’s residence province of Kwa-Zulu Natal and the financial hub province of Gauteng.
South Africa had deployed the military to supply additional safety in 4 provinces final month when the Constitutional Court docket dominated that Zuma’s early launch on medical parole was improper, and safety forces had been on excessive alert once more this week.
Zuma has not too long ago returned from Russia the place he acquired medical therapy for an undisclosed sickness.
He’s additionally on trial for corruption in a separate case. He faces a 15-year jail sentence having been charged with corruption, fraud, racketeering and cash laundering. These prices had been laid in early 2021 however the trial — which facilities on a multibillion-dollar arms deal South Africa secured earlier than Zuma was president — has been slowed down in hearings and no testimony has but been heard.
Zuma was acquitted of rape in a trial in 2006 and revived his political profession to be elected president of Africa’s most developed financial system in 2009. He was pressured to resign in 2018 within the face of corruption allegations and was later known as to testify at a judicial inquiry into the alleged graft throughout his tenure.
On the inquiry, witnesses testified to large graft throughout Zuma’s presidency, principally involving enormous contracts at state-owned companies. Zuma refused to testify, resulting in him being convicted of contempt of court docket.
Imray reported from Cape City, South Africa.
AP Africa information: https://apnews.com/hub/africa