Release Zuma with no conditions, demands son Edward

Former president Jacob Zuma's son Edward Zuma is demanding that his father be released, with no conditions. File photo.
Former president Jacob Zuma's son Edward Zuma is demanding that his father be released, with no conditions. File photo.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

The family of former president Jacob Zuma is demanding that the state release him from the Estcourt Correctional Centre, where he is serving his 15-month sentence for contempt of court. 

“We want Zuma to be released with no conditions,” said Zuma’s eldest son, Edward, in a statement released on Thursday afternoon.

Last week Zuma made his first public appearance since his imprisonment, when he attended his brother Michael’s funeral in Nkandla. Michael, who was buried last Thursday, died from a long illness a few days after Zuma began serving his sentence. 

The correctional services department granted the 79-year-old former head of state compassionate leave, allowing him to be temporarily released under supervision to attend the funeral. He was later returned to the prison.

Edward has condemned the recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in which hundreds of people were killed, and hundreds of stores and warehouses looted, damaged and torched. The unrest began shortly after Zuma was incarnated.

Edward said the family has “accepted that we share our father with the people of South Africa.

“We have always understood and still do, that any form of injustice no matter where and how it manifests itself, will always invoke him to come forward and perform his supreme duty to his first family, [which is] the people of South Africa, no matter how heavy the price.

“We cannot dispute that [the] South African constitution is a magnificent document created by African minds and African hands. Our father, being the Pan-Africanist that he is, is proud of this magnificent document, which he dearly fought for.”

He said the constitution reaffirmed that “dignity is an objective that an individual must pursue and further reaffirms one of the key pillars of the Freedom Charter, that the people shall govern.

“We therefore cannot take away the people's rights as enshrined in this magnificent document, as long as everything and everyone is acting within the confines of the law, including those who are supposed to administer and dispense the law. All our father is seeking is justice.

“We will not accept [it] when people go to [the] extreme because we never sent anyone to do such. However, we want Zuma to be released with no conditions. We will fight this unjust action until our calls are heard by the law enforcement officers,” the statement read.

He called on people to “continue to engage peacefully and desist from destroying infrastructure”.

In an interview with TimesLIVE last week, Edward would not be drawn on whether Zuma had been offered a presidential pardon or the option of house arrest.

“That is a matter for another day. I cannot talk about that until the lawyers discuss that with you. But they are just exercising a very futile exercise,” he said at the time.

He added that there were a few things that his father was not happy with in jail, “but we are OK with it, so long as they do not kill our father because that is a suspicion that we have”.

When asked what made the family believe that Zuma was not safe in the prison, he said: “There have been many things that they have been doing that point us to believe that they want this man dead. They do not want to see him alive and we want to say that they must stop doing what they are doing because we aware of it.  

“We want our father to come back very healthy and alive. We want him back in one piece, just like when they took him, because it won’t be nice if something happens to him.”

Furthermore, he said: “We defend and support Mr Ngizwe Mchunu and believe that he was wrongfully jailed and people must stand up and defend all of us.”

Mchunu, a former Ukhozi FM radio DJ, was granted bail at the Randburg magistrate's court on Thursday. Accused of inciting violence and looting, he was arrested last week and kept in custody until his bail hearing on Wednesday and Thursday.

He is one of a number of suspects to appear in court in Gauteng regarding the violent unrest that broke out in the province and in KZN after Zuma's imprisonment on July 7.