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South Africa's former president avoids jail as prisoners granted remission

Former South African president Jacob Zuma
Former South African president Jacob Zuma Copyright Jerome Delay/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Jerome Delay/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with agencies
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The main opposition party has described the remission granted to former president Jacob Zuma as a disgrace to the country’s criminal justice system.

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Former South African President Jacob Zuma returned to jail on Friday, only to be released two hours later, and reportedly will not be required to complete his prison sentence.

The Correctional Services national commissioner said his release was part of a remission programme, with overcrowding in prisons cited as the main reason.

Zuma was incarcerated in 2021 for defying a court order to appear at a corruption inquiry. But, controversially, was released two months into his 15-month sentence for health reasons.

However, last month a court declared his medical parole unlawful and unconstitutional and ordered the former president to present himself at the Estcourt Correctional Centre.

But President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday announced he was granting a special remission of sentences to some 10,000 non-violent offenders.

As pressure from opposition parties to the decision mounted, the authorities and correctional services defended their decision.

"The law has taken its course with regards to the former president Zuma. The national commissioner has taken a decision and that decision was not interfered with, neither did we meddle with it," the Justice and Correctional Services minister told journalists.

The ruling African National Congress has welcomed Zuma's remission status. But the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has described the move as a disgrace to the country’s criminal justice system.

It says it will take legal action to challenge the decision.

Zuma's imprisonment in 2021 triggered violent protests in which over 300 people were killed, and there were fears that if he were sent back to jail there could be more rioting.

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