Former South African President Jacob Zuma applied for compassionate leave from prison to attend his brother Michael Zuma’s funeral which will be held in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.
Department of Correctional Services spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo told Bloomberg by phone Wednesday that Zuma submitted the application on Tuesday and authorities were considering it. He didn’t say when a decision would be made.
The application is made amid growing calls from different quarters for the State to be compassionate and allow the former president to attend the family funeral.
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Zuma has been in prison since the 8th of July for refusing to testify before the Zondo Commission that is investigating state capture during the former ANC boss’ 9-year tenure as president.
The South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights said Zuma had the right to attend his brother’s funeral.
The organisation’s president, Golden Miles Bhudu, said the former president should be treated like any other South African and be granted the right to bury his loved ones.
Bhudu criticised statements claiming that Zuma making a public appearance could worsen the unrest in the country. Bhudu said:
He is doing a lousy sentence. He must apply to go to the funeral; they should not deny him to go and bury his brother. I don’t think there will be a problem with him going there. If there are problems, he is the former president and he can call out those who want to make trouble.
We as an organisation have an interest in his incarceration, the conditions, the medical treatment and study material. The former president is not an ordinary man.
The South African Council of Churches (SACC) said it would be appropriate for Zuma to attend his brother’s funeral. The secretary-general of the SACC, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, said there were also discussions to provide the Zuma family with pastoral support and counselling.