Two unnamed City Press sources have claimed what many others have already suggested must have happened – that President Cyril Ramaphosa gave Correctional Services boss Arthur Fraser the green light to authorise the release of former President Jacob Zuma from prison.

According to the report in City Press, its sources said Fraser consulted the President before deciding to release Zuma based on three medical assessments.

One of the sources privy to the discussions said: ‘The old man’s seriously sick. There were three medical assessments, conducted by three different doctors, saying that the Correctional Service medical facilities were unable to cater for his ailing health issues. This information will be realised once the matter’s heard in court. Fraser didn’t want to have Zuma dying in prison. Imagine what chaos could (erupt) if he died in prison. That could be a repeat of the chaos in KZN and Gauteng, if not worse.’

Another source, who was privy to the details of last weekend’s meeting of the governing party’s national executive committee, reportedly said Ramaphosa told the participants that he had been consulted about the release of Zuma and that he had approved the prison boss’ decision to order his release.

A senior ANC leader in KZN is quoted as saying: ‘What we have here is a man (Fraser) taking the fall for the party. There was an instruction from the top to let Zuma out. When he was arrested, we all knew he was going to be released before his time ended. It was all a plan in motion. Obviously, there was lobbying involved, but this plan was decided long before now.’

The leader said Fraser had offered himself as the ‘sacrificial lamb because he has the power, and so that the ANC takes no blame after all the dust has settled’.

Fraser’s decision has been met with outrage, with the DA in the vanguard of several potential legal challenges. The Helen Suzman Foundation has given Fraser until today to give his reasons for releasing Zuma. If he fails to do so, it will pursue legal avenues in having the decision overturned, as the DA has already done (see separate report below).

The foundation’s lawyer, Pooja Dela of Webber Wentzel, said: ‘The reason for placing Zuma on medical parole is shrouded in secrecy. It seems to be based on a medical report, the details of which have been totally concealed from the public.’

Dela said that, should Fraser fail to explain his reasons for authorising the release of the former President, the foundation would ‘exercise its legal rights, in its interests and in the public interests, on an urgent basis’.

However, notes City Press, Llewellyn Curlewis, legal expert in the University of Pretoria’s department of procedural law, said that, in strict legal terms, Fraser had not broken the law. Curlewis said the Correctional Services Act gave Fraser powers to grant Zuma parole.

Curlewis said it was a fact that Fraser and Zuma knew each other personally.

‘That’s the concern, I agree. But … from a strictly legal point of view, if you read the words of the Act, Fraser complied with his duties as commissioner. He’s got the authority.’

He said Zuma had been sentenced to 15 months behind bars, which was less than the 24 months prescribed in the Act. As a result, he qualified for parole.

He said the statement issued by Fraser’s department on 5 September detailed that his decision had been made in accordance with section 75(7)(a) of the Act.

That section, he said, gave Fraser the prerogative to grant correctional supervision, day parole or parole.

Full City Press report