South African ex-president Jacob Zuma (80), who has officially served his 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court, has to go back behind bars.
An appeals court now says his parole for health reasons last year was illegal.
The ex-head of state was convicted in June 2021 for refusing to testify before a commission investigating corruption during his presidency (2009-2018). His jail time a month later sparked a wave of violence and looting amid a tense socio-economic climate. There were 350 deaths. Zuma was released on health grounds two months later and placed under judicial supervision.
The Supreme Court of Appeal “believes that Mr Zuma’s parole on medical grounds was unlawful,” the ruling said. The prison officer released Zuma on parole against the advice of the institution’s medical committee. The medical experts ruled that Zuma “did not meet the conditions”.
Many questions remain about Zuma’s health. Medical reports quoted by the court state that he has problems due to high blood pressure, high blood sugar and severe damage to the colon.
Despite the many scandals, Zuma is still seen as the biggest rival of sitting president Cyril Ramaphosa. Less than a month before a conference of the ruling party, the ANC, which is crucial to Ramaphosa’s political future, Zuma repeatedly tried to destabilize him by questioning his integrity.