LONDON (Reuters) – Jailed former South African president Jacob Zuma was hospitalized on Friday for medical observation, the government’s Corrections Department said.
Zuma has been held at Estcourt prison in Kwa-Zulu Natal province since he surrendered on July 7 to serve a 15-month sentence for contempt of court. His imprisonment led to the worst outbreak of violence in South Africa in years.
Zuma’s foundation, while confirming he was in the hospital, said it was for his annual routine checkup.
“No need to be alarmed,… for now,” the foundation said in a tweet.
Corrections said in a statement earlier that a routine observation at the prison prompted authorities to take Zuma to an outside hospital for further examination.
“Any person detained, including any sentenced prisoner, has the right to conditions of detention in accordance with human dignity, including (…) medical treatment,” the statement said.
He added that, because he was a former president, Zuma’s health needs required the involvement of South African military health services.
Zuma, 79, was jailed for defying a Constitutional Court order to testify in a high-level corruption investigation during his nine years in office until 2018.
When Zuma surrendered, protests from his supporters degenerated into riots with looting and arson that President Cyril Ramaphosa called an “insurgency”.
Zuma, who was briefly allowed out of prison on July 22 to attend his younger brother’s funeral, is scheduled to appear in public again on Tuesday for his trial on charges of corruption in arms trafficking.
In this case, he is accused of receiving bribes on a $ 2 billion arms deal in the 1990s. He pleaded not guilty in May to charges of bribery, fraud and embezzlement. money laundering.
He evaded prosecution for over a decade and presented himself as the victim of a politically motivated witch hunt.
Efforts to pursue it are seen as a test of South Africa’s ability to hold powerful politicians to account.
Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Writing by Toby Chopra; Editing by Jon Boyle and Giles Elgood