SANDF backs off from Zuma sick note investigation

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Former President Jacob Zuma’s questionable medical certificate raised sufficient concern within the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to prompt the possibility of an investigation into the document, which has since been stopped, according to a Mail & Guardian investigation.

The doctor’s note, presented to the KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg) by Zuma’s lawyers this week, was deemed to be insufficient proof of the former head of state being indisposed. Among the concerns raised by Judge Dhaya Pillay were its vague nature and the fact that dates appeared to have been altered, without a corresponding signature from the issuing doctor.

The certificate listed Zuma’s diagnosis as a ‘medical condition’ and did not provide further detail. The date had been changed to 6 January, but was not initialled by the doctor who issued it. The M&G says it has established that the SANDF had been considering an investigation into the sick note, but it was called off at the highest level because it was felt that the matter was before the courts.

As a former President, Zuma is treated by the SA Military Health Services. At the centre of the concern in the corridors at SANDF is that the sick note, which was signed off by Dr Zakes Motene – who is assigned to Zuma as his doctor – could be a forged document because the dates appeared to have been altered.

A government official who is aware of the concerns said: “The sick note is the one that we use at defence. The problem is that there are dates which were changed there and that is what the investigation would have focused on. But those that are in power said this should be dealt with by lawyers who are already at court.”

The M&G says it has also confirmed that Motene was part of the SANDF team that accompanied Zuma late last year when he went for medical treatment in Cuba, leaving him unable to attend the Zondo Commission of Inquiry.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) has, meanwhile, confirmed that the sick note does not meet the ethical standards laid down in the Health Professions Act. And says a Sunday Independent report, the organisation has provided three glaring flaws to substantiate their opinion.

The HPCSA is a statutory body that regulates the conduct and practice of doctors and health workers, including their education, training and registration to practice, in accordance with the Act. Priscilla Sekhonyana, HPCSA’s spokesperson said the certificate issued and referred to as South African Medical Health Service (SAMHS) Prescription and Duty Restriction Form did not meet some of the requirements of Ethical Rule 16 of the Act.

Sekhonyana higlighted that: the practitioner’s (Motene) qualifications and registration number were not recorded; the date on which the certificate was issued is not recorded; and the certificate did not indicate whether it was issued as a result of personal observation by Motene during an examination.

Full Mail & Guardian report

Full Sunday Independent report (subscription needed)

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