JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's High Court has ordered former President Jacob Zuma back to jail, to serve out the remainder of his 15-month sentence for contempt of court.It called the decision in September to release Zuma on medical parole unlawful.
There is no evidence South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma is terminally ill or incapacitated, the country’s High Court said Wednesday in reversing a decision to grant him medical parole.
The court slammed the national commissioner who granted Zuma medical parole in September, calling the decision irrational, and based on irrelevant considerations.
Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court in June and sentenced to fifteen months in prison for failing to appear before a national inquiry into state graft.
The 79-year-old’s arrest in July sparked protests among his supporters.
The street action spiraled into riots and looting in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal and the country’s economic hub of Gauteng.
Threats of unrest were previously cited as reason to support Zuma’s parole application. But in Wednesday’s ruling, the court deemed it groundless for releasing an offender.
The court also ruled that his time on medical parole doesn’t count toward his sentence, so Zuma will have to fulfill the entirety of his sentence behind bars.
Opposition Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen called the judgement “a big victory for the rule of law and the principle of equality before the law.”
The former president’s education charity, the Jacob Zuma Foundation, called the court’s ruling “clearly wrong” and said his legal team has already filed an appeal.
(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla Editing by James Macharia Chege)