South Africa ex-president Jacob Zuma ordered to return to jail

Joseph Zuma

South Africa’s High Court has ordered former President Jacob Zuma to return to jail after setting aside a decision to release him on medical parole.

The decision to place the 79-year-old on medical parole is “declared unlawful and set aside”, read the ruling on Wednesday by Judge Elias Matojane. The Department of Correctional Services said it was studying the court judgment and in due course would make further pronouncements.

Zuma, who began medical parole in September, is serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court after he ignored instructions to participate in a corruption inquiry. In the same month, South Africa’s top court dismissed a bid by him to overturn the sentence.

The former president, whose nine-year reign ended in 2018, handed himself in on July 7 to begin his prison sentence, which triggered the worst violence South Africa had seen in years, as angry Zuma supporters took to the streets.

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The protests widened into looting and an outpouring of general anger over the hardship and inequality that persist 27 years after the end of white minority rule. More than 300 people were killed and thousands of businesses were pillaged and razed.

The High Court’s order came days after Zuma launched a book in which he said he intended “to set the record straight”.

In a video released on Friday to promote the book, Zuma lashed out at the “untruth about the work that we have done”, emphasizing the importance for society “to know what has happened”.

“There is no use to create stories because you have a powerful machinery to do so,” he said, sitting in front of a stack of his books, arms crossed and smiling.

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Critics accuse Zuma of using ill health as an excuse to further delay a drawn-out corruption trial relating to a 1999 purchase of arms from five European firms.

Deputy president at the time, Zuma is accused of pocketing bribes from French defence giant Thales and faces 16 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering.

He has denied wrongdoing and has repeatedly claimed the justice system was hounding him for political motives.


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By Amos Kalu
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