Former South African President Jacob Zuma has been spared a return to prison, according to officials, in order to relieve overcrowding.
Zuma, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court, surrendered to police on Friday.
He had previously been released on medical parole, which the courts concluded was unlawful.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola claimed he had been given permission to handle jail congestion.
The procedure tries to relieve system burden by releasing low-risk offenders.
Zuma reported at the Estcourt Correctional Facility in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal on Friday morning and was “admitted” into the system before being released an hour later, according to South Africa’s Commissioner of Prisons Makgothi Thobakgale.
President Cyril Ramaphosa granted remission status to almost 9,000 low-risk convicts.
He says that this “remission process” started in April.
South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has said it will legally challenge the remission granted to the former president.
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal has welcomed the decision and said it is in the best interest of the country.
More broadly the reaction has also been mixed. Some South Africans say the government should focus on pressing issues such as frequent power outages, high crime rates, poverty and youth unemployment, while others say Zuma should go back to jail to serve the rest of his term.
Zuma’s jailing in 2021 sparked protests and riots that left more than 350 people dead.
He was sentenced after refusing to testify before a panel probing financial sleaze and cronyism under his presidency.
He was however freed on medical parole just two months into his term.
An appeals court last November found the release was illegally granted and ordered Zuma back to prison to finish his sentence. Last month, the constitutional court rejected an attempt to overturn this decision.