A former leading African National Congress lawmaker was released from prison on Monday after serving just four months of an original five-year sentence for corruption, fanning criticism he had received preferential treatment.
Tony Yengeni, who was the former chief whip for the governing ANC, was convicted in 2003 of fraud for accepting a discounted Mercedes-Benz car from the head of Daimler-Benz Aerospace as part of a much-criticized arms deal.
Yengeni was released from the Malmesbury prison on the Cape west coast under strict parole conditions that effectively place him under house arrest until 2008.
He was unrepentant as he emerged from the prison on Monday morning to be greeted by small crowd of supporters who included a number of parliamentarians and party officials.
"It is a great day for me and my family and for the movement in that I'm now walking out of the gate of this prison, a place that I was not supposed to be in the first place," Yengeni said, the South African Press Association reported.
On Sunday, Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour visited Yengeni to read him the "riot act to ensure he is fully informed of the rules and obligations of placement under correctional supervision," a prisons department statement said.
Yengeni will need permission to leave his house and will also have to do 16 hours of community service a month.
From the beginning, the conditions of Yengeni's incarceration had sparked criticism it showed the government was soft on corruption.
He received a rousing send-off when he reported to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town in August, accompanied by top political leaders, members of parliament and ministers.
Within a day he was transferred to a hospital cell in the more comfortable Malmesbury prison.
Yengeni then was caught drinking and reported late back to prison, breaking conditions for weekend parole. He was also allowed to have a Christmas party with family and friends at the prison.
Yengeni and prison authorities have denied that he received preferential treatment.
Yengeni qualified for his sentence to be reduced by 28 months under a presidential pardon granted to certain nonviolent offenders. Luphumzo Kebeni, spokesman for minister Balfour, said Yengeni was released in line with department's regulations allowing parole after a prisoner has served a third of his or her sentence.
The Inkatha Freedom Party's Sybil Seaton said on Monday his release after just under five months was "a national disgrace."
James Selfe, from the Democratic Alliance, said Yengeni's release was a case of justice not been served.
"The ANC has set an appalling example throughout this saga, which can only serve to deal a severe blow to the fight against corruption," Selfe said. "Apart from sending the message that if you are a well connected ANC member you can get away with criminal activities, the Yengeni saga has totally undermined the aim of the Department of Correctional Services to rehabilitate prisoners."
In a statement on Yengeni's release the ANC said the party had taken disciplinary action against him in June 2003, when he pleaded guilty to charges of violating the party constitution, and his membership was suspended for five years. But the punishment was suspended, meaning it would only be enacted if Yengeni transgresses again.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday