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Jailed ex-South African President Zuma allowed to attend brother’s funeral

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South Africa’s jailed ex-president Jacob Zuma was granted compassionate leave from prison on Thursday so he can attend his brother’s funeral, the government said.

Zuma, 79, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court last month after snubbing graft investigators probing his presidency.

He turned himself in on July 8 at a jail in the eastern town of Estcourt, around an hour’s drive from his rural Nkandla home.

His incarceration sparked riots and looting that escalated into the worst violence since the end of apartheid, killing at least 276 people, according to the official count.

“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 Thursday.

It added that inmates were not required to wear “offender uniform” outside correctional facilities.

The funeral for Zuma’s brother Michael is expected to take place later on Thursday in Nkandla, where Zuma is particularly popular.

Zuma’s brother died aged 77 after a long illness, according to local media.

Inmates in South Africa are usually allowed to attend relatives’ funerals — a right denied to the country’s first black president Nelson Mandela when he was in jail for fighting the apartheid regime.

Zuma’s long-running corruption trial is expected to resume on August 10, despite his request to have the case postponed due to the pandemic and recent unrest.

After nine years in office, the charismatic ex-leader was ousted by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party in 2018 over a mounting series of graft scandals.

He faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering, and has entered a not guilty plea.

He retains a fervent support base both within the ANC and among the general public.

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Africa

Four Somali nationals killed in South Africa violence

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Four Somali nationals were killed and several others injured in South Africa following violent protests against the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma hit parts of South Africa. Several Somali-owned shops have been looted in separate areas of KwaZulu-Natal province.

In a statement, Somali foreign ministry expressed its deep concern about the riots and looting of Somali businesses. The government has called on the South African government to exert all its efforts to protect Somali nationals from brutal acts, to ensure the safety of their lives, their shops and the preservation of their rights. Somalia said it is proud of its historical relations with the people of South Africa during their struggle against apartheid and the extent of the multiple political, economic and strategic support it provided over a period.

Protests erupted last week in parts of KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s home province, after the ex-leader handed himself over to police to serve a 15-month jail term for contempt of court.

Last Friday, the high court dismissed Zuma’s application to have his arrest overturned in a case that has been seen as a test of the rule of law in the post-apartheid nation.

Zuma’s imprisonment has laid bare deep divisions in the governing African National Congress (ANC), as a party faction remains loyal to the former president and has been a potent source of opposition to his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa.

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