The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has adjourned a decision on former president Jacob Zuma’s appeal to overturn a high court ruling that overturned his release on health grounds last year.

Zuma’s medical exemption

A court in Bloemfontein heard Zuma’s marathon arguments on Monday lawyers and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) when they fell out with the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Helen Suzman Foundation and AfriForum over the decision by then prison warden Arthur Fraser to release him on health grounds in September.

Zuma was granted parole after serving just two months of a 15-month sentence handed down by the Constitutional Court for contempt of court.

READ MORE: Court rules Zuma’s parole was illegal, orders him back in prison

The former president was released from prison despite the Parole Advisory Board recommending against his release after he was found to be stable and not suffering from a terminal illness.

Prosecutors, the Helen Suzman Foundation and AfriForum successfully challenged his parole in the High Court in Pretoria, which ruled that Fraser’s decision was illegal and irrational and ordered Zuma to return to prison.

Redacted Zuma’s medical records

The issue surrounding redacted portions of Zuma’s medical records came into sharp focus during arguments at the SCA on Monday.

Zuma’s lawyer, defense counsel Dali Mpofu, argued that the terminal illness or medical condition the former president suffered from could not be disclosed publicly or in court to protect his privacy and human rights.

Mpofu claimed that Zuma was suffering from a chronic illness for which he was released on medical terms.

READ ALSO: Mpofu argues courts should believe Zuma’s doctors’ word on his illness, even without full record

He said his client’s medical record had been redacted because he was a former head of state and therefore the information was “naturally classified”.

Mpofu said this was done because the former president’s medical records contained information that was “highly sensitive”.

“Common sense, in fact, more than common sense, should inform us that the parts that are redacted are the most sensitive and confidential [parts which] clearly mentions Dr. Mafa’s terminal illness [Zuma’s doctor] says that it exists,” he said.

Fraser was ‘within his powers’

Meanwhile, lawyer Mantlheng Mphahlele, acting on behalf of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), argued that Fraser was fully within his powers to release the former president on parole, even though the Parole Advisory Board had recommended against Zuma’s release.

Mphahlele argued that Fraser had exercised his discretion because the Parole Advisory Board’s independent recommendations were not binding on him.

“The Parole Advisory Board’s report cannot be the one to determine whether a convicted felon is terminally ill.

“This report is a follow-up that will make a recommendation as to whether parole is appropriate on health grounds.

“Therefore, it is not binding on the national commissioner as submitted by the respondents,” Mphahlele said.

Additional reporting on Tapela Lekabe

READ NOW: Fraser had the power to overturn the Parole Advisory Board’s decision to free Zuma, the SCA said

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