The legal team representing the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has applied to serve as a friend of the court, or amicus curiae, to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in the Zuma medical parole case, to vindicate the administration of justice.

Former President Jacob Zuma was notoriously granted medical parole in September last year on the order of Arthur Fraser, the former National Commissioner of Correctional Services. This order was deemed ‘unlawful’ by Judge Keoagile Matojane of the North Gauteng High Court, a ruling that is now being taken on appeal to the SCA, where the IRR aims to assist.

In a statement, the IRR says: ‘Who should have the final say on Zuma’s parole, the Medical Parole Board or the Commissioner of Correctional Services? This is how the case has been understood, but the IRR’s representatives will argue that this question mistakenly assumed that Zuma fell within the Correctional Service’s parole jurisdiction in the first place.

‘On the facts available, Zuma was not a “sentenced offender” in terms of the Correctional Services Act and so fell outside of the Department of Correctional service’s parole jurisdiction. Zuma did not face an ordinary trial in an ordinary criminal court and was never an “accused person” in terms of Section 35(3) of the Constitution. Instead, he was tried for contempt of court for disobeying an order from the Constitutional Court to give evidence.’

The IRR points out that in 1998 the Constitutional Court ‘dealt clearly with people who refuse to give evidence and are then put behind bars, in the case of De Lange vs Smuts NO and Others’.

‘The IRR will bring this pertinent precedent to the SCA’s attention, among other points, to show that Zuma ought to be behind bars under the direction of the court. If Zuma seeks to give his evidence by an alternative channel it will be for the court to decide if that is sufficient to let him out, and if he advances a medical excuse, it must be for the court to decide that as well.

Said IRR Head of Campaigns Gabriel Crouse: ‘Zuma disobeyed the ConCourt and was being punished until Fraser interfered. The court’s authority must be restored. Once Zuma is back in jail he might be able to take a very short walk to freedom: Step 1, testify; step 2, freedom.’