Former president Jacob Zuma has applied to the department of correctional services for permission to attend the funeral of his brother, Michael, in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.
The former head of state is currently serving a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court at the Estcourt Correctional Centre over his refusal to abide by a number of summonses to return to the Zondo commission into state capture to be cross-examined on his evidence before the inquiry.
The request is understood to have created a security nightmare for prison authorities, who have had to come up with a comprehensive security plan before considering the application.
There are concerns that supporters of the former president might clash with security officials at the funeral.
Department of correctional services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo confirmed on Wednesday night that lawyers for the 79-year-old Zuma had made the application for him to attend the funeral.
Nxumalo said the application was “under consideration” and that a decision on whether or not to allow Zuma to attend would be taken before the funeral was held.
Zuma is being held in the hospital wing at the Estcourt facility.
A source in the department, who asked not to be named, said it was “very likely” that Zuma would be allowed to attend.
“The factors taken into consideration are the relationship to the deceased, the offence committed by the offender and the behaviour of the offender. The former president meets all these criteria,”’ the source said.
“It is likely that they will only confirm that he is attending on Thursday, very soon before the funeral takes place, or even after, to avoid people coming there.”
The source said the department had activated its security staff from Empangeni and other areas on Sunday in preparation for the “‘exercise””.
Michael Zuma, who died on Sunday after a long illness, was the younger brother of the former president and acted as spokesperson for the Zuma family during his elder sibling’s two terms in office.
JG Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi had not responded to calls from the Mail & Guardian at the time of publication.