NKANDLA, South Africa, July 22 (Reuters) – Former President Jacob Zuma, whose arrest this month resulted in the worst outbreak of violence in South Africa in years, was given compassionate leave Thursday to attend his younger brother’s funeral.
He was back in prison that afternoon, the government said.
Zuma, who wore a dark suit and white shirt, was flanked by family members as he walked from his homestead to his brother’s neighboring property in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal province, a Reuters journalist said.
Soldiers patrolled nearby and military and police vehicles were stationed along the road.
Zuma has been detained in Estcourt Prison since throwing up on July 7, serving a 15-month sentence for disobeying the court. The prison is located in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Zuma was granted parental leave because he was considered a short-term inmate with low risk, the correctional facility said in a statement. Zuma is not obliged to wear a criminal uniform outside the prison walls, it said.
“He was accompanied by law enforcement officers who were assisted by law enforcement agencies. And we have to confirm that he returned to Estcourt prison during our speech,” Cabinet Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
Zuma, 79, was convicted last month for resisting a Constitutional Court order during his nine-year term ending in 2018 to testify in an investigation into high-level corruption.
Protests by his supporters broke out when Zuma surrendered and escalated into rioting, looting and arson, what President Cyril Ramaphosa called an “insurrection”.
The unrest swept across Kwa-Zulu Natal and spread to the economic heartland of the country in which Johannesburg is located. Ntshavheni said the death toll had risen to 337. Continue reading
Thousands of soldiers have been dispatched to quell violence, one of the worst since the ruling African National Congress won the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994, to replace rule by the white minority.
Reporting by Siyabonga Sishi in Nkandla, Wendell Roelf in Cape Town and Alexander Winning in Johannesburg; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Angus MacSwan
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.