Former South African President Jacob Zuma has been set free following the expiry of his prison sentence for contempt of court, a government department said on Friday.
Zuma received a 15-month sentence last year after he ignored instructions to participate in a corruption inquiry.
He handed himself in on July 7 last year to begin his sentence, triggering the worst violence South Africa had seen in years as his angry supporters took to the streets.
In a statement, Zuma said he felt relieved to be a free man and thanked his supporters.
"The... messages of support on social media and other platforms kept me strong and focused on ensuring that those who wanted to break my spirit and resolve do not succeed," he said.
Zuma was released on medical parole in September 2021. But in December, the high court set aside the parole decision and ordered him to return to jail. Zuma appealed the ruling and remained on parole pending the appeal outcome.
His appeal had not been determined by the time his sentence expired.
"Mr Zuma complied with his conditions for medical parole as set out during his placement," the Correctional Services department said in a statement.
"All administrative processes have now been concluded and the sentence expiry date marks the end of him serving his sentence under community corrections."
(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo, James Macharia Chege and Jonathan Oatis)