It is unfair to compare the position of Schabir Shaik with that of former police commissioner Jackie Selebi. The latter is unlikely to be applying for his release under medical parole.
Shaik was released in terms of section 79 of the Correctional Services Act 1998 (the Act) which provides:
“Any person serving any sentence in a prison and who, based on the written evidence of the medical practitioner treating that person, is diagnosed as being in the final phase of any terminal disease or condition may be considered for placement under correctional supervision or on parole, by the Commissioner, Correctional Supervision and Parole Board or the court, as the case may be, to die a consolatory and dignified death.”
I’m sure most of you are as sick and tired as I am of rehashing the details of why Shaik should not have been released on this ground for parole and if you wish to go over it again read my previous articles or Google the topic.
In the case of Selebi it has not been suggested, in anything I’ve heard or read, that he is in the final phase of a terminal condition.
What appears to be the problem is that he has problems with his kidneys, which requires dialysis, and diabetes.
The prospects for a kidney transfer are remote due to his age.
In terms of the South African Constitution — at Section 11 of the Bill of Rights — every citizen has the right to life.
In terms of the Act at Section 12. (1) The Department must provide, within its available resources, adequate health care services, based on the principles of primary health care, in order to allow every prisoner to lead a healthy life.
(2) (a) Every prisoner has the right to adequate medical treatment but no prisoner is entitled to cosmetic medical treatment at State expense.
(b) Medical treatment must be provided by a medical officer, medical practitioners or by a specialist or health care institution or person or institution.
My understanding, subject to correction, is that correctional services are currently unable to provide the necessary treatment required. If that is the case then he has to receive that care elsewhere.
Reports indicate that staff at the prison where Selebi will serve his time will be trained in administering dialysis, so that he can receive this treatment in prison.
In addition doctors have recommended that he stay in the medical wing of prison once discharged from hospital towards the end of January.
I have a family member who receives dialysis three times a week. If she did not the chances are that she could very quickly become seriously ill or worse.
I do not believe that doctors, under intense media scrutiny, would dare to diagnose any condition other than that which presents itself and which can be confirmed by any doctor who does a re-examination.
I have no doubt that Selebi is very ill and while he has been convicted of corruption he should not be sentenced to death.
Our Constitution and legislation are there to protect us even when we are sent to prison. If the doctors are of the view that this is what it takes to give Selebi the best chance of survival so be it.
That said it bears no comparison with Shaik’s release on medical parole.