Jacob Zuma

Former President Jacob Zuma. Image: Flickr

Jacob Zuma officially a free man, but could still go back to jail

Former President Jacob Zuma’s 15-month-sentence expires on Friday, 7 October, however, he could still go back to jail. Here’s why..

Jacob Zuma

Former President Jacob Zuma. Image: Flickr

Former President Jacob Zuma is now a free man as he has been released from the Correctional Services system. 

The Constitutional Court sentenced Zuma to 15 months in prison for contempt of court after he failed to appear before the State Capture Commission. 


In a statement Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo confirmed that Zuma has been released from their system as his sentence expired on Friday, 7 October 2022. 

Zuma was jailed at the Estcourt Correctional Centre on 8 July 2021 and was subsequently placed on medical parole on 5 September 2021 “due to the seriousness of his illness”.

Nxumalo said Zuma complied with his conditions for medical parole as set out during his placement.

“All administrative processes have now been concluded and the sentence expiry date marks the end of him serving his sentence under community corrections,” he added. 

The former Statesman could still go back to jail as the Democratic Alliance (DA), Helen Suzman Foundation and others challenged his medical parole and sought to have the decision by former Correctional Services Commissioner Arthur Fraser reviewed and set aside.

“Fraser’s parole decision harms the court in exactly the same way that Mr. Zuma’s contempt of court did. It again makes a mockery of the judicial process, sending the message to every South African that, as long as you are powerful and politically connected, you need not fear punishment for breaking the law. If you are sent to prison for your crimes, you will be let out well before the end of your sentence on ‘medical parole’,” DA leader John Steenhuisen said at the time

The Helen Suzman Foundation had also argued that the time Zuma spent outside of jail should not be counted as part of the 15-month sentence. It is not yet clear whether the Supreme Court of Appeal will uphold an earlier ruling which declared that the parole should not have been granted.

It should be remembered that it is still believed that it was due to Zuma’s sentencing that many South Africans lost their jobs and businesses because of the July unrest in 2021. 

Many small businesses and shopping malls are still trying to recover from the effects of looting and vandalising which dominated parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. A number of people have since been arrested and are already serving sentences while others are still appearing in court. 

ALSO READ: Wait, what? Zuma could be elected as ANC National Chairperson