Jailed former South African president Zuma undergoes surgery

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On a two-day state visit in France, former South African President Jacob Zuma makes a statement next to the French President Francois Hollande during a joint press conference at the Elysee Presidential Palace on July 11, 2016 in Paris, France. /Chesnot/Getty Images

Jailed former South African President Jacob Zuma has undergone unspecified surgery and remains in hospital with more operations planned, prison authorities said on Sunday.

Zuma, serving a 15-month sentence in Estcourt prison for contempt of court, was sent to a hospital outside for observation on August 6, days before the start of a corruption trial he has thus far avoided.

“Mr Zuma underwent a surgical procedure on Saturday, 14 August 2021, with other procedures scheduled for the coming days,” Prison Spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo said in a statement.

There was no word on a potential discharge date for Zuma, who in July asked the country’s top court to reverse his incarceration, saying it was unjust and might kill him if he catches COVID-19.

Last week, a high court postponed his corruption trial to September 9 after his hospitalization. It is unclear what medical condition ails Zuma, and his legal team was ordered by the judge to produce a medical report by August 20.

The prosecutors may appoint a doctor of their choice to assess whether Zuma is fit to stand trial.

Zuma, whose jailing last month ignited looting and unrest, faces charges with co-accused, French defence firm Thales (TCFP.PA), over a $2 billion arms deal corruption case that led to his sacking as South Africa’s deputy president in 2005.

Zuma and Thales have denied the allegations.

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