Zuma lashes out at those wanting Shaik dead

African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma has lashed out at South Africans for wanting his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, dead, the Saturday Star reported.

In an interview with the publication on Friday, Zuma said he was “deeply saddened” that many South Africans had made up their minds that Shaik was lying about being at death’s door.

“What has saddened me is how South Africans could be mean about somebody’s life. Why is there such a problem when medical doctors who were working with the man say ‘this man is sick, he needs to be out of prison’,” Zuma said.

He said South Africans were behaving as if Shaik was a mass murderer and his release would harm other people. He said it was a very negative side of South Africans.

Shaik was sentenced to 15-year’s imprisonment in 2005 for corruption and fraud.

He was released on medical parole two weeks ago after serving less than three years of his sentence.

Zuma said that even though people could not see the [medical] report because of patient-doctor confidentiality, they should have had faith in the processes that were followed.

“You can’t say so many officials, all the way up to the minister, were all corrupt and dishonest and wanted to smuggle a prisoner out, it can’t be,” Zuma said.

Zuma also denied that he will pardon his friend if he becomes president.

“The point I was making was that if there was medical evidence for him to go on parole, why would I not? Because I would do that for anyone, because that is within the law.”

Zuma said he has not yet seen Shaik because he had been so busy campaigning for the April 22 elections, but did phone him [Shaik] last week.

“He sounded OK.
All that dominated our discussion was how happy he was to be with his child, particularly the fact that the child was not bothered to go to the mother, but instead came to him. He was very happy to be with his child,” Zuma said.

“I’m sure that at some point I will see him when I have a chance to get to Durban.”

Zuma said he was confident that the elections would be incident-free and that the ANC would return to head the government with an even greater majority than the 66% it won in 2003.

Shaik’s multimillion-rand house
Meanwhile on Friday it was reported that Shaik tried to buy a R10-million home on Eastbourne Road in Durban—considered “one of the Durban addresses”—a week before he was released from hospital.

Pam Golding Properties’ Durban manager, Carol Reynolds, confirmed Shaik made a verbal offer of R10-million on the property “two weeks ago, around the same time as there was another bid for R9,8-million on the table”.

“The seller decided to go with the written offer [of R9,8-million] because the verbal offer wasn’t completely conclusive and too high risk,” said Reynolds.

The offer for the Eastbourne Road house, a few streets up from Shaik’s current home in Morningside, also raises questions about his financial capacity.

In 2006 the asset forfeiture unit seized R34,4-million in assets from Shaik and his three Nkobi companies after they were deemed to be proceeds or benefits of his corrupt relationship with Zuma.

In January this year the National Prosecuting Authority agreed to pay Shaik half the R14-million interest this had accrued over two years.

He was paid R5-million in cash and another R2-million to cover his legal fees. The remainder of the interest and the original R34,4-million were deposited into the criminal asset recovery account.

Shady parole?
Earlier this week a medical report sent to the head of Medium B prison at Westville correctional facility by the head of cardiology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s medical school, Professor DP Naidoo, and principal specialist Dr Sajidah Khan, was leaked to the media.

Dated September last year, this recommended medical parole because Shaik “had a lengthy stay under specialist care without effect”. The report goes on to state that “despite our best efforts, Mr Shaik’s [high blood] pressure remains refractory to medication”.

“We cannot keep him in hospital indefinitely, and since the prison authorities are reluctant to manage him at the prison hospital, where conditions are suboptimal, we recommend that he be considered for medical parole,” the report stated.

The report made no mention of Shaik being in the final phase of a terminal illness—the only legal grounds for such a release.

It is understood that each patient in the ICU at Luthuli Hospital has an average of four doctors in attendance around the clock and a personal nurse on 24-hour call.

Shaik’s release has raised the ire of political parties and civil society.

A Democratic Alliance complaint to the Health Professions Council of South Africa has prompted an investigation of all the health practitioners involved in Shaik’s treatment.

Condemning “preferential treatment”, the Social Justice Coalition called this week for a judicial review of the grounds for Shaik’s parole.

Said the coalition’s Gavin Silber: “According to a recent department of correctional services survey there are at least 32 000 people in South African prisons who are HIV-positive.

At least 7 000 people require ARVs now, but fewer than 3 000 are actually receiving them. To compound this they are forced to continue living with their debilitating conditions in overly cramped cells where they are very likely to contract opportunistic infections such as TB, and where unprotected and often coerced sexual behaviour is rife.

“Very few sick prisoners will ever get a hospital bed, let alone be released on bail to die a dignified death, no matter how severe or advanced their condition is.”

Niren Tolsi

Niren Tolsi

Niren Tolsi is a freelance journalist whose interests include social justice, citizen mobilisation and state violence, protest, the Constitution and Constitutional Court, football and Test cricket. Read more from Niren Tolsi

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