South Africa’s prison authority freed former President Jacob Zuma after he was briefly re-incarcerated, following an order by President Cyril Ramaphosa to grant a remission of sentence to thousands of non-violent offenders.
Zuma, 81, was “admitted” to a prison in Estcourt in eastern South Africa early on Friday morning and then freed after he was “subjected to administrative processes,” Makgothi Thobakgale, the national commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, told reporters in the capital, Pretoria, on Friday.
South Africa’s top court sentenced Zuma to 15 months in prison in 2021 for failing to appear before a probe into allegations of corruption during his tenure, but he served less than two months behind bars before he was released on medical parole.
His incarceration triggered widespread unrest that left 354 people dead and saw thousands of businesses looted and destroyed.
The earlier decision to free Zuma was taken by Arthur Fraser, the then-head of the prisons department and the country’s former top spy, who claimed that he had sought to avert further upheaval and denied that his close relationship with the ex-president had played any role in the decision.
While the Supreme Court of appeal found that Zuma’s early release was unlawful, it didn’t specify whether time he spent under house arrest should count in lieu of his sentence, leaving that for Thobakgale to determine