Thursday, August 24, 2006

ANC STANDS BY JAILED FORMER M.P.


ANC leaders accompanied Yengeni to the gates of the jail. South African government and ruling ANC party officials accompanied former MP Tony Yengeni as he arrived to start a prison sentence for fraud. Mr Yengeni, once head of parliament's defence committee and ANC chief whip, lost an appeal this week.
He was convicted in 2003 after it was found he had received a large discount on the purchase of a luxury car, from a firm bidding for an arms contract.
He then initially lied to parliament about receiving this benefit.
Known as a flamboyant dresser, Mr Yengeni arrived at Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town immaculately dressed in a striped pink shirt and a blue tail coat, the BBC's Mohammed Allie reports.
Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, parliamentary speaker Baleka Kgotsile, and the premier of Western Cape province, Ebrahim Rasool, were among the crowd of about 300 people who supported the former MP as he arrived at the prison.
'Travesty'
Mr Yengeni appeared composed as he addressed his supporters at the prison gates.
"Suffice to say, what has happened is a great injustice - an unfortunate travesty of justice," he said.
"This is not going to break me. It will be difficult but I will emerge stronger and continue to work with the ANC," he said, to cheers from the crowd.
Mr Yengeni was sentenced to four years' jail, but could be released on parole after only eight months.
He is likely to be moved from the notoriously violent Pollsmoor to a newer prison at Malmesbury, 50km (30 miles) north of Cape Town.
The case has been seen as an important test of the South African government's willingness to fight corruption.
Corruption charges currently being investigated against former Deputy President Jacob Zuma arise from the same arms deal for which Mr Yengeni was convicted.
Mr Zuma denies the charges, and his case is due back in court next month.
BBC NEWS REPORT.

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