By Hassan Isilow
PRETORIA, South Africa (AA) – A court in South Africa ruled Wednesday that former President Jacob Zuma be returned to prison because his medical parole was granted unlawfully.
“It is hereby directed that the third respondent (Zuma) be returned to the custody of the department of correctional services to serve out the remainder of his sentence of imprisonment,” the judgment handed down electronically reads.
The high court in the capital Pretoria said the decision by then former correctional services commissioner, Arthur Fraser, to place Zuma on medical parole was unlawful and has been set aside.
Zuma, 79, was granted medical parole on Sept. 5, after spending about two months in prison.
He was sentenced to a 15-month jail term in July after the Constitutional Court found him guilty of contempt of court for refusing to appear before a judicial commission probing graft during his nearly decade-long presidency.
Saber Ahmed Jazbhay, a leading South African lawyer, told Anadolu Agency over the phone the judgment was anticipated because Zuma’s parole process was so riddled with irrational considerations and political rationale that the outcome revoking parole was expected and fairly made.
“However, there is still room for an appeal to a higher court,” Jazbhay said.
Jazbhay said there are fears of recurring violence should Zuma go back to jail, but added that if this happens then those main perpetrators arrested for instigating the July unrest will be arrested again.
“The judgment doesn't specify when Zuma must be returned to prison, or how it is to be effected,” he said.
Another top lawyer, Yousha Tayob, told Anadolu Agency over the phone he had not read the judgment, “but certainly any judgment is appealable.”
Zuma's incarceration in July led to violent riots in South Africa, claiming more than 300 lives and witnessing looting and vandalism, costing businesses billions of dollars.
The Pretoria high court also declared that the time that Zuma spent out of prison should not be counted for the fulfillment of his 15 months when he returns to jail.
The Jacob Zuma foundation said in a statement the former president’s legal team has filed an application for an appeal "on the grounds that the judgment is clearly wrong and there are strong prospects that a higher court will come to a totally different conclusion."
Officials from the National Department of Correctional Services did not reply to repeated requests for comment.