South Africa’s Justice Minister Ronald Lamola went to see former president Jacob Zuma at Escourt Correctional Services in KwaZulu-Natal this afternoon.
Zuma handed himself in at the prison last night before a midnight deadline. He has been sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for contempt of court for repeatedly refusing to appear before a commission investigating government corruption during his 9-year rule.
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Zuma can perhaps consider himself lucky to have landed up in a prison that, relatively recently, was almost entirely rebuilt.
Situated in the small town of Estcourt in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, the old facility was constructed of corrugated iron before being demolished to make way for new buildings.
The facility was officially re-opened in May 2019 after R387 million (N11,6 billion) was spent upgrading it.
Estcourt’s jail can house around 500 inmates and has a hospital section offering 24-hour medical attention. It also has a workshop, a training centre and accommodation for officials.
The head of the centre, Mpumi Hadebe, told reporters on Thursday Zuma would have access to a television, but not a cell phone as such devices were banned by the Department of Correctional Services.
“He will have access to the public phone. If he wants to have contact with anyone that he needs to contact, then he’ll have access to the public phone. Wherever he is, there is a public phone (and) he will have access.”
While Zuma will be entitled to a maximum of four visits a month, these will have to be conducted over the telephone for now as the COVID-19 pandemic means that no prison visits are currently allowed.