Former South African President Jacob Zuma has been released from prison on medical parole, according to prison officials.
Zuma, 79, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt two months ago by the country’s Constitutional Court after refusing to appear before a judicial commission investigating corruption during his nearly decade-long presidency.
The former president began his sentence on July 8 at the Estcourt prison in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, about 180 kilometers (110 miles) northwest of Durban, before being admitted to a hospital for surgery.He was allowed to leave prison two weeks later to attend his brother’s funeral in his Nkandla rural home.
“Medical parole placement for Zuma means that he will serve the remainder of his sentence in the community corrections system, where he will be subject to supervision and must comply with a specific set of conditions,” the Department of Correctional Services said in a statement late Sunday.
According to the department, the decision was prompted by a medical report.
“Inmates suffering from an illness that severely limits their daily activity or self-care, in addition to being terminally ill and physically incapacitated, can also be considered for medical parole,” it said.
The imprisonment of Zuma in July sparked violent riots in South Africa, killing over 300 people and causing looting and vandalism estimated to cost businesses billions of South African rand.
His successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, described the unrest as a planned attempt to destabilize the country and promised to crack down on those who instigated it.
The Jacob Zuma Foundation applauded the former president’s decision to serve the remainder of his sentence outside of prison.
“He is still in hospital,” the foundation said in a statement, adding that more detailed remarks would be issued “in due course after consultation with President Zuma’s legal team.”
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