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Jacob Zuma. Picture: BLOOMBERG
Jacob Zuma. Picture: BLOOMBERG

What is the secret of good comedy? Timing, apparently, and certain former presidents have it down to such a fine art they would repeatedly win gold if farce were an Olympic event.

As the Constitutional Court slapped down Jacob Zuma’s appeal and found that his early release from a 15-month jail sentence on medical parole was unjustified, the former president suddenly turned up in Russia, where he is apparently receiving treatment for an undisclosed medical condition. Who knows when he will return?

The ruling party has, naturally, kicked the can over to correctional services as it scrambles to distance itself from any pronouncement on whether Zuma should go directly to jail, as the law contends he must, should he return from Russia.

All eyes, then, on correctional services commissioner Makgothi Thobakgale, upon whom the decision rests and who is likely to be excoriated whatever he does.

It is not known how the commissioner is or isn’t coping with the responsibility, but it would be fair to assume it is stressful and could manifest in symptoms such as insomnia, depression, high anxiety, helplessness and exhaustion.

His call: Correctional services commissioner Makgothi Thobakgale, in front. Picture: Alaister Russell
His call: Correctional services commissioner Makgothi Thobakgale, in front. Picture: Alaister Russell

Most of those symptoms could be treated with rest and relaxation. No surgical safari for him, then.

Anyway, South Africa, not Russia, is still one of the world’s leading destinations for medical tourism, a fact noted by South African Tourism. Many of these surgical safaris are, apparently, for cosmetic procedures. 

Nip and tuck, Botox and eye lifts, that sort of thing, rather than the slip and duck, bolting and airlifts apparently in vogue in an as-yet unnamed Russian facility.

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