By Staff Reporter

In an ironic twist of events, instead of messages of national reconciliation, in a society battling a sea of inequality, intolerance and poverty, Mzansi woke up to calls for calm over one man.

In a hastily arranged media briefing, state security cluster ministers assured the nation of its security and called for calm.

This in the wake of the North Gauteng High Court judgment that nullified former president Jacob Zuma’s medical parole.

The previous day, Wednesday 15 December, the North Gauteng High Court ordered Zuma to go back to jail to serve out the remainder of his 15-month sentence for contempt of court.

It described Zuma’s release in September on medical parole by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) as unlawful. 

There is no evidence that South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma is terminally ill or incapacitated, the High Court said in reversing a decision to grant him medical parole.

Judge Elias Matojane ruled that former national commissioner of correctional services Arthur Fraser’s decision to place Zuma on medical parole was unlawful and ordered that the former president should return to jail to serve out the remainder of his 15 months sentence imposed by the Constitutional Court.

The security cluster ministers claimed to have learnt their lessons from the July Zuma arrest that resulted in riots that claimed more than 300 lives.

It promised that police were well-prepared to deal with threats to security. Defence minister Thandi Modise said the South African National Defense Force was on standby.

Adding its voice to the calls for calmness was the South African Human Rights Commission. This Chapter 9 institution is investigating the violence that swept across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July when Zuma was incarcerated.

Chiefly, the commission is probing the effectiveness of the state‚ particularly the police and the security cluster‚ in maintaining public order‚ including the provision of adequate protection for the safety and security of people and property.

It has pleaded with the country to remain calm after the  Gauteng High Court in Joburg nullified Zuma’s release on medical parole and ruled he should return to prison. 

The commission said it had noted that the social media was abuzz following the ruling, and that statements and sentiments similar to those before the July unrest – which started after Zuma was arrested – were in the public domain. 

“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. 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,” said the commission. 

Both Zuma and the DCS will be appealing the court ruling. The DCS said it was studying the judgment but will definitely be appealing it.

“Having carefully studied the judgment, the DCS is convinced that another court may arrive at a different conclusion. The DCS is of the view that the court sadly misinterpreted the Correctional Services Act and erred in declaring the decision of the national commissioner to place Zuma on medical parole to be unlawful and setting it aside,” it said.  

The Jacob Zuma Foundation said the court ruling was “cruel” and “vindictive”.

Spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi said it was tantamount to a death sentence.

“This is a death sentence. We see this judgment as cruel. We see this judgment as  cold. We see this judgment as vindictive,& he said.

“So, we are dismayed by this but  are not surprised because with the North Gauteng High Court, it looks like there is an executive decision there that anything that has to do with Zuma, he must lose and everything to do with Ramaphosa, he must win.

“So, everybody knows that’s the currency of that court. Indeed, we have a judiciary in this country that must be looked at,” said Manyi.

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