Johannesburg – The security forces, who have come under fire for the poor handling of the country’s worst unrest since the end of apartheid, are facing another headache – former president Jacob Zuma’s attendance of his younger brother’s funeral.
Sunday World can reveal that the justice crime prevention security cluster is scrambling to put together a plan to ensure that the funeral of Michael Zuma does not become a battleground for a bloody confrontation between law-enforcement officers and the supporters of the former statesman.
There are concerns that Zuma’s supporters could form a human shield such as the one they erected outside his homestead before he handed himself over to the police last Tuesday.
Sunday World also understands that the family, through Zuma’s lawyers, have lodged an urgent application to have Zuma released to attend the funeral.
“The funeral will be held sometime this week and we hope by then my brother will have been granted permission to attend the funeral. He is the remaining elder and the deceased is his blood,” said family spokesperson Khanya Zuma.
Khanya would not be drawn on whether the delay in burying Michael was related to efforts to ensure that Msholozi attends the funeral.
“You should understand that generally in African culture funeral arrangements take time. For instance, family elders and relatives who stay in other provinces need to be notified. But the main problem for the delay was that his wife asked for the postponement because she is not in good health.”
Michael died last Sunday after battling a long illness. He served as family spokesperson during Zuma’s tenure as president. Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said they were still waiting for Zuma’s application.
“Compassionate leave for inmates is dealt with in line with Section 44 (1)(a) of the Correctional Services Act. Once an application is received from Mr Jacob Zuma, it will then be processed accordingly,” he said.
“There are a number of variables that are considered before a final decision is taken. There must be a security plan in place each time an inmate has to temporarily leave a correctional facility.”
But two independent sources in govenment said Correctional Services National Commisioner Arthur Fraser had already approved Zuma’s attendance of the funeral.
Meanwhile, Zuma supporters who have organised themselves under the campaign #Free- ZumaNow say they will not back down on their demands that Zuma be released.
“We cannot give up now, we are fighting against the political prosecution of Zuma. We will not rest until he is set free,” said Nkosentsha Shezi, a former ANCYL leader and staunch Zuma supporter.
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