- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: Jailed South African politician-fraudster Tony Yengeni freed early
- Date: 18th January 2007
- Summary: (FLASH) GUGULETHU, CAPE TOWN, (JANUARY 15, 2007) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF YENGENI'S HOUSE WITH SUPPORTERS GATHERING YENGENI SUPPORTERS SINGING AND DANCING YENGENI GREETING SUPPORTER MEDIA WAITING OUTSIDE (SOUNDBITE) (English) TONI YENGENI, PAROLED FORMER ANC PARLIAMENTARY WHIP, SAYING: "I am grateful for the support that I've received from numerous South Africans, some of whom I've never met in my life. But many of them prayed for me. They've supported me. They visited me in prison me in prison. They sent me messages. They sent me cards with messages and I was amazed by the avalanche of support whilst I was in prison now." SUPPORTERS OUTSIDE HOUSE (SOUNDBITE) (English) TONY YENGENI SAYING: "Throughout my incarceration, a number of things have been said, many of them wrong things and I would want to respond to those things but I don't think that today is the time to do so. I will need to sit down and ponder on my response. Consult the ANC. Consult my family and be able to respond appropriately and comprehensively." YENGENI AND SUPPORTERS
- Embargoed: 2nd February 2007 12:00
- Location: South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement
- Reuters ID: LVA2682KGMED2TNEHT6GV61CA6HY
- Story Text: Cheering local ANC leaders and supporters gathered to welcome former ANC parliamentary whip Tony Yengeni home as he was paroled after just 20 weeks of a four-year term, fuelling opposition charges that the ANC is soft on corruption, especially among its own.
"I am grateful for the support that I've received from numerous South Africans, some of whom I've never met in my life. But many of them prayed for me. They've supported me. They visited me in prison me in prison. Thay sent me messages. They sent me cards with messages and I was amazed by the avalanche of support whilst I was in prison now," said Tony Yengeni as he spoke to supporters outside the prison near Cape Town before departing for a party at his parents' home.
Yengeni was sentenced in 2003 for defrauding parliament in a case linked to a multi-billion-dollar arms deal that also landed former deputy president Jacob Zuma in court.
Known for his fondness for sharp suits and flashy cars, the former anti-apartheid guerrilla leader was once a rising star in the African National Congress, the liberation movement that became the ruling party.
He resigned as chief whip after details emerged of a big discount he had received on a luxury four-wheel-drive Mercedes Benz from DaimlerChrysler Aerospace South Africa, subsequently folded into European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co (EADS).
The company was involved in a multi-billion-dollar arms deal that has been dogged by allegations of graft.
Yengeni, who remains a member of the powerful ANC National Executive Committee, has long maintained his innocence, but failed to overturn his conviction.
Officials said he had served the minimum amount of time required to qualify for parole.
Local newspapers reported on Monday that former deputy president Jacob Zuma had visited Yengeni on the eve of his release.
President Thabo Mbeki fired Zuma as his deputy in 2005 after he was implicated in the fraud and corruption trial of a former financial adviser. But Zuma remains deputy president of the ANC, and widely popular with the rank and file.
The ANC insists it takes a firm stand against corruption and other infractions by party members.
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