Former President Jacob Zuma’s family has demanded that he be released from the Estcourt Correctional Centre, where he is serving a 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.
Zuma made his first public appearance since his incarceration last week, when he attended his brother Michael’s funeral in Nkandla. Michael, who was buried last Thursday, died a few days after Zuma began serving his sentence after a long illness.
The corrections department granted the 79-year-old former head of state compassionate leave, allowing him to be freed under supervision for the funeral. He was eventually returned to prison.
Edward has criticized the recent turmoil in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people and the looting, vandalism, and torching of hundreds of stores and warehouses. The turmoil erupted soon after Zuma’s incarnation.
“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 further asked people to “continue to engage peacefully and desist from destroying infrastructure”.