Johannesburg, Jul 22 (PTI) Jailed former South African president Jacob Zuma was granted compassionate leave by prison authorities on Thursday to attend his brother’s funeral.
Zuma arrived at his late brother Michael Zuma’s residence under security escort to attend the latter’s funeral.
Michael died on Sunday after battling an undisclosed illness for seven years.
He was the spokesman for the family during his elder brother’s two terms of office as president of the country.
Zuma, 79, has been incarcerated at an Estcourt correctional facility since July 7 when he started a 15-month contempt of court prison sentence imposed on him by the country’s apex court.
Zuma was jailed after he refused repeatedly to return to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
In a statement on Thursday morning, Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo confirmed that the permission was granted under section 44 (1)(a) of the Correctional Services Act.
Provisions of the Act include consideration of the activity that a prisoner wished to attend, how long he should be temporarily released and the security risks involved as he still needed to be protected by the Department.
“A sentenced offender who is granted permission to leave a correctional centre remains a sentenced offender even while temporarily outside. The permission granted to Mr Zuma is for July 22, 2021.
“As a short-term, low-risk classified inmate, Mr Zuma’s application for compassionate leave was processed and approved following the correctional services prescripts,” Nxumalo said.
Nxumalo said Zuma did not have to wear the standard orange overalls of the Department while he was outside.
Zuma was whisked to Michael’s home under great secrecy to avoid crowds gathering again as the country recovers from the widespread looting and arson that wracked the country last week in the wake of his imprisonment.
The protests about this rapidly devolved into unprecedented looting and violence, with thousands of people looting ceilings and counters from stores and warehouses and burning trucks on arterial transport routes.
President Cyril Ramaphosa later called the incidents “a failed insurrection” in an organised way.
On Thursday, Zuma was escorted by teams from the department’s security division, who were activated for the “exercise’’ as early as last Sunday, a report published by Mail & Guardian, a local daily of South Africa, reported.
During the funeral, there was high police and army visibility across the area.
Both security forces had set up a roadblock a few kilometres from the piece of land occupied by the Zumas in Nkandla, searching all passing cars amid expectations that Zuma's supporters would swarm the area and turn the funeral into a political rally to demand his release from prison, the report said, Cape Times, another local daily, reported.
However, the funeral remained incidents free. PTI FH RUP AKJ RUP RUP