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SA Human Rights Commission Appeals For Calm After Court Rules That Zuma Should Return To Prison

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THE South African Human Rights Commission has appealed for calm following the decision of the North Gauteng High Court nullifying and setting aside the decision of the head of the Department of Correctional Services to grant medical parole to former President Jacob Zuma.

The high court in Pretoria on Wednesdat ordered the former president to return to correctional Services to serve the remainder of the sentence that had been imposed on him by the Constitutional Court.

The Commission said it had noted that the social media is already abuzz with statements that have the potential to inflame the situation in the country.

“Some statements have been made on public news media which can have the same effect,” said the commission in a statement.

“The Commission recalls that such media statements did in fact inflame the situation in June / July 2021 and led to the July unrest that took many innocent lives and resulted in large scale destruction of property in addition to violations of other human rights of many people in the country. The Commission is in the process of investigating that July unrest.”

The commission also called on the Security Cluster to note the developments, including the evolving social media discourse about the recent High Court decision and to do their best to prevent the repeat of the July 2021 experiences.

“The Commission would like to remind the South African public that the former President, like any other citizen, has the right to take the recent decision of the High Court on appeal or review for different sets of Judges to look at and pronounce on the soundness and validity thereof. Let us all be calm and exercise restraint and allow the judicial processes to unfold,” said the commission.

“The South African Human Rights Commission has full confidence in the Judiciary of this country and is confident that judicial decisions will always be corrected whenever they are found wanting. It, of course, may not, and makes no pronouncement on the current decision, especially as age old procedures already exist for testing the validity of judicial decisions.”

Carl Niehaus, a key ally of the former president, said it is Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola’s duty to appeal the Gauteng High Court ruling regarding Zuma’s medical parole.

“It was a decision taken by former correctional services commissioner Arthur Fraser so there is a responsibility with the minister to appeal that decision of the North Gauteng High Court. The commissioner acted perfectly legally and took into consideration the medical records presented to him. Mr Fraser had a right to take that decision,” Niehaus said.

The ANC said in a statement that it had noted the judgement delivered by the Gauteng Division of the High Court.

“We further note that the judgment is receiving the attention of the Department of Correctional Service and will accordingly await their pronouncement on the matter,” said the governing party.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said his party welcomed the order that the former president be sent back to prison.

“We welcome the order that Mr Zuma’s medical parole be revoked immediately, that he be returned to the custody of Correctional Services to serve out the remainder of his sentence, that no time spent on medical parole is to be counted as time served and that he and Mr Arthur Fraser pay all legal costs,” Steenhuisen said.

“If we allow these to slide, we will severely weaken the foundation of our constitutional democracy. We are greatly encouraged by the firm and unambiguous position taken by Justice KE Matojane in this regard.”

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