According to the authorities, South Africa’s imprisoned ex-president Jacob Zuma was granted compassionate leave from prison on Thursday to attend his brother’s funeral.
Zuma, 79, was sentenced to 15 months in prison last month for contempt of court after ignoring graft investigators investigating his presidency.
On July 8, he surrendered to jail in Estcourt, in the eastern province of South Africa, about an hour’s drive from his rural Nkandla home.
According to the official tally, his arrest provoked riots and looting that turned into the worst violence since apartheid ended, killing at least 276 people.
Mr. Zuma’s application for compassionate leave was processed and approved as a short-term, low-risk classified detainee, according to a statement released by the Department of Correctional Services on Thursday.
Outside of correctional establishments, convicts were not forced to wear “offender uniform.”
Zuma’s brother Michael’s funeral is scheduled for later Thursday in Nkandla, where Zuma is very popular.
According to local media, Zuma’s brother died at the age of 77 following a long illness.
Inmates in South Africa are normally permitted to attend the funerals of relatives, a privilege denied to the country’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, when incarcerated for opposing apartheid.
Zuma was removed by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party in 2018 after nine years in government due to a series of graft scandals that occurred during his presidency.
Within the ANC and among the broader public, the charismatic ex-president maintains a strong following.
Zuma is also accused of collecting payments from an armaments contract with various international businesses when he was deputy president in 1999.
He vehemently denies any misconduct on his part.