Zuma in hospital

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Jailed former South African president Jacob Zuma was admitted to hospital for medical observation on Friday, the Correctional Services department said.

Zuma is in Estcourt prison in Kwa-Zulu Natal since handing himself over on July 7 to serve a 15-month sentence for contempt of court. His jailing is seen as the spark which led to South Africa’s worst outbreak of violence in years.

Zuma’s foundation, confirming he was in hospital said it was for an annual routine medical check-up.

“No need to be alarmed, yet,” the foundation said in a tweet.

Correctional Services said routine observation at the prison prompted authorities to take Zuma to an outside hospital for further examination.

“Everyone who is detained, including every sentenced prisoner, has the right to conditions of detention consistent with human dignity, including medical treatment,” the statement said.

It added, because he was a former president, Zuma’s healthcare needs required the involvement of the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS).

Zuma (79) was jailed for defying a Constitutional Court order to give evidence at an inquiry investigating high-level corruption during his nine years in office.

When Zuma handed himself in, protests by supporters escalated into riots involving looting and arson which President Cyril Ramaphosa described as an “insurrection”.

Zuma was briefly permitted to leave jail on July 22 to attend the funeral of his younger brother, is due to appear in public on Tuesday for his arms deal corruption trial.

In this case, he is accused of receiving kickbacks over a $2 billion arms deal from the 1990s. He pleaded not guilty to charges including corruption, fraud and money laundering.

He has evaded prosecution for more than a decade and portrays himself as victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.