Fees Must Fall activist Kanya Cekeshe qualifies for parole immediately, according to Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola.
The minister made the announcement on Monday during a media briefing in Pretoria where he said 14 647 inmates were eligible for special remissions.
When asked if Cekeshe and jailed AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo would benefit from this decision, the minister confirmed that they would, but there was no time set for when they would be released.
Due to the 12-month remission, Cekeshe's eligibility for parole moves up from February next year, to immediate. Dalindyebo meanwhile has been eligible for parole since October, Lamola said.
On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier announced that he had granted a special remission of sentence to specific categories of sentenced criminal offenders, probationers and parolees to mark Reconciliation Day.
The president acknowledged that there had been previous remissions of this nature granted to coincide with important national days.
These included President Nelson Mandela's inauguration on May 10 1994, the first anniversary of freedom on April 27 1995, Mandela's 80th birthday on July 18, 1998, the first year of President Thabo Mbeki's second term of office on May 30, 2005 and in celebration of 18 years of freedom on April 27, 2012.
Cekeshe's attorney told News24 on Monday that based on the pronouncement, they would urgently apply for his parole.
"We're meeting with the parole team on Tuesday but we must still apply through the process which can take up to 3 months. We're not clear on whether he will be home for Christmas. This is dependent on when the last meeting for the parole board for this year will be held," Wikus Steyl told News24.
- Additional reporting by Canny Maphanga