JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Former South African President Jacob Zuma has been granted medical parole after serving two months of a 15-month sentence for contempt of court.
The decision comes after the 79-year-old spent almost a month in hospital for an undisclosed medical condition. Zuma’s lawyers have not disclosed his diagnosis but announced in mid-August that the former president had undergone surgery.
They also have sought to postpone his trial on corruption charges because of his health, though they have refused an assessment of his condition by an independent, court-appointed doctor.
Zuma’s foundation welcomed the decision and said Zuma should serve the rest of his sentence outside prison. “He is still in hospital right now,” the foundation stated on Twitter.
South African media reported that Zuma would be able to return to his home in Nkandla to recuperate.
“The news of the parole of the former president comes as a welcome relief to many of us. We also wish him a very speedy recovery among family and loved ones,” his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, said on Twitter.
The opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has been critical of the parole, alleging that it is illegal.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said that he will ask in parliament for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government to give a full explanation of Zuma’s medical condition and the reasons for the parole.
“A report on the health status of any prisoner must be subject to recommendation by an independent board to confirm, in truth, that a prisoner is indeed deserving of medical parole,” Steenhuisen said.
“Given that Zuma publicly refused to be examined by an independent medical professional, let alone a medical advisory board, this decision is a violation of the act and therefore unlawful,” Steenhuisen said.