South African President Cyril Ramaphosa granted clemency to thousands of non-violent offenders, including his predecessor Jacob Zuma who was convicted of contempt of court.
(Bloomberg) — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa granted clemency to thousands of non-violent offenders, including his predecessor Jacob Zuma who was convicted of contempt of court.
The nation’s prison authority freed former President Zuma after he was re-incarcerated for less than two hours on Friday. Zuma, 81, was “admitted” to a prison in Estcourt in eastern South Africa early in the 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 Pretoria, the capital.
Zuma’s incarceration in 2021 triggered the worst riots in South Africa since the end of White-minority rule, leaving 354 people dead and thousands of business destroyed. South Africa’s top court sentenced Zuma to 15 months in prison that year 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.
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.
An inquiry led by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo laid out a web of graft that stretched from the national power and rail utilities to Zuma and his cabinet.
Yet just a handful of arrests have been made in South Africa so far, while two of the Gupta brothers who stand accused of working hand-in-glove with Zuma to steal from state coffers couldn’t be extradited from the UAE. Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing.
Zuma is due back in court next week for a separate corruption trial he’s facing that’s related to a state arms deal. He’s denied wrongdoing.
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