Encandla, South Africa:
Former President Jacob Zuma, whose prison was the site of South Africa’s deadliest violence in years, took a gracious leave to attend his younger brother’s funeral on Thursday.
The government said he had returned to the jail by the afternoon.
A Reuters reporter said Zuma, wearing a dark suit and white shirt, was spotted by family members as he drove from his home to his brother’s neighboring property in Nankandla, KwaZulu-Natal province.
Soldiers patrolled the area and military and police vehicles were parked on the road.
Zuma has been held in Eastcourt jail since he surrendered in July to 15 months in prison for contempt of court. The prison is in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Department of Correctional Services said in a statement that Zuma was granted “compassionate leave” because he was considered a “short-term, short-risk detainee.” Zuma was not required to wear criminals’ uniforms outside prison walls, it said.
“He was with correctional officers backed by law enforcement. We have confirmed that he returned to the Eastcourt correctional facility as soon as we spoke,” Cabinet Minister Khumbudjo Nationveni told a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Zuma, a 9-year-old Uma, was sentenced last month for disobeying a Constitutional Court order to provide evidence in a high-level corruption probe during his nine-year term until 2011.
Protests by his supporters began when Zuma surrendered and was charged with looting and arson, which President Cyril Ramaphosa described as a “rebellion.”
The unrest spread across KwaZulu-Natal and spread to the economic center of the country, Johannesburg. The death toll rose to 337, Ntishaveni said.
Thousands of troops were deployed to quell the violence, the worst since the ruling African National Congress won South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994 to replace white minority rule.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from the Syndicate feed))