FORMER president Jacob Zuma has been hospitalised a few days before his trial begins in Pietermaritzburg High Court.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) said Zuma was taken to an outside hospital on Friday.
“The department can confirm that former president Jacob Zuma has today, 06 August 2021, been admitted to an outside hospital for medical observation,” said spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo.
He said the health of inmates was addressed under Section 35(2) of the Constitution.
Nxumalo said: “This obliges the (DCS) to ensure that: “Everyone who is detained, including every sentenced prisoner, has the right to conditions of detention that are consistent with human dignity, including at least exercise and the provision, at state expense, of adequate accommodation, nutrition, reading material and medical treatment.”
He said Zuma’s healthcare needs, as a former president, require the involvement of the South African military health services.
He said that has been the case since he was jailed at Escourt prison.
“A routine observation prompted that Mr Zuma be taken for in-hospitalisation,” said Nxumalo.
Zuma is expected to appear in court for his plea hearing on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Judge Pete Koen issued a directive that the matter would proceed in an open court. This was after Zuma refused to have his matter heard virtually.
The directive also stated that Covid-19 safety protocols, including the wearing of masks, should be strictly adhered to.
Zuma’s foundation confirmed that he was in hospital.
“The 79-year-old, 1st prisoner of the ConCourt, jailed without trial is attending to his annual medical routine checkup. No need to be alarmed… yet,” read a short statement posted on its Twitter account.
Speaking to News24, the Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi said the former president was taken to hospital for his “normal annual medical check-up”.
He said Zuma was not ill and added that the foundation would issue a statement once the check-up was completed and a medical report was received.
Manyi added that Zuma was looking forward to his court appearance in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday for his plea hearing.
He said the hospital admission was not a ploy aimed at missing the court appearance and added that Zuma could not afford to be sick because he had a lot to share in court.