The decision to release Schabir Shaik on medical parole, just 28 months into the 15-year sentence he received for his conviction on fraud and corruption, is going to create the next political implosion just this side of the election. Sit down Carl Niehaus, please rise minister of correctional services it’s time for a session of “please explain”.
Shaik appeared before the Correctional Supervision and Parole Board on March 2 whereat he was granted parole based upon his medical condition. That decision is final and may only be reviewed by the Correctional Supervision and Parole Review Board, which panel must be headed by a judge, in terms of Section 75 (8) of the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998.
Spokesperson Manelisi Wolela told SABC radio on Tuesday that the Correctional Services Act was “very clear” on medical parole rules.
“The act is very clear. It talks about people who are in the final stages their terminal illness — but that determination is not done by the officials of the department, that is done by medical doctors that submit their reports to the parole board which then makes a decision, said Wolela.” (Mail & Guardian).
As we are all aware, ANC president Jacob Zuma confirmed that Shaik would be granted a pardon should he become national president. In terms of the link above, Zuma is quoted as saying that in light of Shaik’s health he should have been released a long time ago. If I may be so bold — if the medical conditions furnished to us previously is the basis for Shaik’s release then he would probably fall into the last 40% of candidates entitled to be released.
In addition the article confirms that the decisions are taken by the parole board based upon the advice furnished to them by medical doctors. Shaik was apparently suffering chest pains, depression and high blood pressure. The Democratic Alliance has called for a full medical disclosure on the basis for the release, pending the details of which I am holding back both barrels.
My criminal attorney colleagues and I can, however, give you cases where prisoners living with Aids and suffering from illnesses arising out of their reduced immunity (as I understood it) were told that they were not eligible for medical parole and must soldier on. High blood pressure and chest pains would, in that light, not even get you to the starting gate (if that is all it was).
One individual, Shadrack X, had Aids. I watched this man literally wither before my eyes and he was refused medical parole without the blinking of an eye.
Accordingly correctional services must as a matter of urgency advise us where the ceiling is on medical parole. Obviously this is dealt with on a case-by-case basis but knowing what Shaik is actually suffering from will allow us to decide whether he should have been granted parole, what the yardstick now is and whether there is in fact one rule for the rich and another one for the poor.