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Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007, 11:08 GMT
ANC official released from prison
Tony Yengeni (c) and Ebrahim Rassool (r)
Yengeni remains popular within the ANC
Former ANC parliamentary whip Tony Yengeni has been freed from prison in South Africa after serving just five months of a four-year fraud conviction.

Dozens of local ANC officials welcomed him as he left the jail near Cape Town. As part of his parole, he will remain under virtual house arrest.

His sentence was cut on appeal and further reduced by a general amnesty.

He resigned after it emerged he received a big discount on a luxury car as part of a controversial arms deal.

"It's a great day for me and my family and for the movement, in that I'm now walking out of the gates of the prison, a place I was not supposed to be in the first place," Yengeni said as he left prison.

But some have criticised his early release.

"The Department of Correctional Service and the ANC have made a complete mockery of his prison term," said opposition Inkatha Freedom Party spokeswoman Sybil Seaton.

"Every rule in the book has been changed or bent, it seems, to accommodate Mr Yengeni."

Alcohol ban

The BBC's Mohammed Allie in Cape Town says an animal is to be sacrificed as part of a cleansing ceremony at his parents' house in the Cape Town suburb of Guguletho.

Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and parliamentary speaker Baleka Kgotsile were among a large crowd of party officials who accompanied him to Pollsmoor Prison last August.

Our correspondent says Yengeni will need permission from the minister of correctional services if he wants to leave his house and will have to perform 16 hours of community service a week for a year.

The flamboyant Yengeni, known for wearing designer suits, is banned from holding public office for five years, but serves on the ANC's ruling body.

He is also banned from consuming alcohol and hosting parties.

He was convicted in 2003 after it was found he had received a large discount on the purchase of a Mercedes four-wheel drive vehicle, from a firm bidding for an arms contract.

He then initially lied to parliament about receiving this benefit.

Yengeni was convicted over the same arms deal, for which former Deputy President Jacob Zuma was last year put on trial for corruption.

The trial was stopped but the prosecution said new charges could be laid at a later date.


SEE ALSO
ANC stands by jailed former MP
24 Aug 06 |  Africa
BAE South African deal 'probed'
12 Jan 07 |  Business
Plea bargain in SA arms probe
13 Feb 03 |  Africa
Top ANC official resigns
04 Oct 01 |  Africa
Country profile: South Africa
10 Jan 01 |  Country profiles

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