DA to press for Shaik parole review

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour urging him to ensure the Parole Review Board evaluates the medical parole granted to fraud convict Schabir Shaik.

“Given the great deal of public scrutiny involved in this case and the highly serious nature of Shaik’s offences, it is clearly essential that the minister does everything within his power to demonstrate that parole was not granted for political reasons,” DA MP James Selfe said in a statement.

“This is not an ordinary case—and we believe that it is imperative that the Parole Review Board determines Shaik’s eligibility for parole.”

Selfe said there was a growing perception that double standards were being applied in the treatment of high-profile prisoners affiliated to the African National Congress (ANC).

“It is thus only right that the Parole Review Board looks into this matter at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Shaik, a former financial adviser to ANC president Jacob Zuma, was sentenced to jail in 2005 on two counts of corruption and one of fraud. One of the charges related to an alleged bribe he negotiated between Zuma and a
French arms company.

Shaik spent most of his prison time in hospital, reportedly under treatment for high blood pressure, depression and chest pains.

‘No prior knowledge’
Earlier on Wednesday the ANC said neither the party nor its leader had any prior knowledge of the Parole Board’s Decision to release Shaik.

“The minister has looked at the report, applied his mind, and decided the matter is correct,” said correctional services spokesperson Manelisi Wolela.

“I understand the public opinion is mounting but on the basis of the report, the minister has already applied his mind. There is no legal basis for sending it for review,” said Wolela.
Shaik was released from prison on Tuesday and returned to his family in an ambulance.

“Neither the ANC president, Jacob Zuma, nor [the] organisation knew of the pending release of Schabir Shaik,” said party spokesperson Brian Sokutu.

“This matter has been handled by the Department of Correctional Services so it’s very much a matter for correctional services.”

Shaik’s family on Wednesday rejected accusations that he was not ill.

“Political parties must submit their medical qualifications to me, then I’ll respond,” said his brother, Moe Shaik.

Minister of Correctional Services Ngconde Balfour said on Tuesday that Shaik satisfied the law’s requirement that a medical parolee had to be in a “terminal condition”.

“I am of the view that the decision they made is correct,” said Balfour. On Wednesday, South African Human Rights Commission chairperson Jody Kollapen said Shaik’s parole should be further reviewed.

“I think, maybe, what should happen, broadly, in the public interest and I know the minister has indicated that he is satisfied the decision was the correct one—[but] given, I think, the public interest in this matter, perhaps there should be a referral to the review board,” Kollapen told South African Broadcasting Corporation radio news on Wednesday.

“Perhaps, what may be appropriate, is for the minister, or indeed the commissioner, to refer this to a review board. There is lots of concern out there by prisoners that the policy is not being applied consistently,” said Kollapen.

Also on Wednesday, the Mercury reported details of Shaik’s stay in hospital.

The paper quoted hospital nurses who alleged that Shaik’s family had brought him take-aways, including Debonair’s and Steers, and he often met his son, Yasir, in the hospital’s coffee shop.

It also claimed that Shaik, in contravention of policy, was not handcuffed to his bed like other patients, but was allowed to move freely.—Sapa

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