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The big story: The Zuma chronicles, part 682

It’s today’s HUGE news. Remember the controversial decision to release former president Jacob Zuma from prison on medical parole in September? He had served just 58 days of his 15-month jail sentence for refusing to testify at the state capture inquiry. Today a judge declared the decision unlawful and the former president may spend his Christmas behind bars after all. 😶 The time he spent on medical parole does not count towards his sentence, so he still has 13 months to go. 

The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria made the ruling after the Democratic Alliance and the Helen Suzman Foundation went to court over the matter. 

Former National Commissioner of Correctional Services Arthur Fraser, a Zuma ally, made the initial decision to release Zuma, against the recommendations of the Medical Parole Board, which had denied parole. Today’s ruling made it clear that the board should be independent, and that the Commissioner does not have the power to override its decisions on medical parole.

Both Fraser and Zuma must now pay costs. 

The Director of the Helen Suzman Foundation Francis Antonie said: “I don’t think people should regard this as a vindictive matter. It’s not. I take no great pleasure in any 79-year-old man going to jail. It’s a victory simply for the rule of law.”

The Jacob Zuma Foundation tweeted this afternoon that Zuma’s legal team had “just delivered his application for leave to appeal”. 

The ruling comes just as Zuma added the title of “author” to his CV: on 11 December he released a book telling his side of the story. It’s called “Jacob Zuma Speaks” and documents what he went through during his nine years as president. 🧐 The Jacob Zuma Foundation held a virtual book launch over the weekend and books were sold out of a car boot at a McDonald’s in Sandton (we’re serious). 😫 According to a representative of the Jacob Zuma Foundation 100 books were sold in about 20 minutes. An autographed copy was sold for R1 000 and the money will go towards Zuma’s legal fees – turns out he’s going to need it sooner than he thought. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 15 December 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.