South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma, who is currently imprisoned for contempt of court, has been granted compassionate leave for one day to attend his younger brother’s funeral on Thursday, according to prison officials.
Zuma has been imprisoned at Estcourt prison since July 7, when he surrendered to authorities to serve a 15-month sentence. The prison is close to his rural home in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province of Nkandla, where funeral services are expected to take place.
“As a short-term, low-risk classified inmate, Mr Zuma’s application for compassionate leave was processed and approved,” the department of correctional services said in a statement, adding that while outside prison walls, Zuma was not required to wear an offenders’ uniform.
Zuma, 79, was sentenced late last month for defying a constitutional court order to give evidence at an inquiry investigating high-level corruption during his nine years in office until 2018.
When Zuma handed himself in, sporadic pro-Zuma protests erupted into riots involving looting and arson, which President Cyril Ramaphosa described as a “insurgency.”
The unrest swept through Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng, the country’s economic heartland provinces, killing 276 people and destroying hundreds of businesses.
Thousands of soldiers were deployed to help keep the violence at bay, which was among the worst since the ruling African National Congress won the country’s first democratic elections in 1994 to replace white minority rule.