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22 Dec 2009 14:28
In what the opposition has described as a “slap on the wrist”, fraud convict Schabir Shaik has been given a formal warning after admitting he violated his parole conditions.
Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Tuesday that Shaik’s parole conditions had also been tightened, and his parole officer changed.
Her announcement followed a weekend media report that Shaik had been seen shopping and visiting a luxury residential estate in Durban.
Shaik was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted on two counts of corruption, including solicitation of an arms-deal bribe for Jacob Zuma. He started his sentence in November 2006 but was paroled on “terminally ill” medical grounds in March this year.
Mapisa-Nqakula said in a statement that following the weekend shopping report, she had instructed her department to investigate.
Shaik had been visited by senior correctional services officials at his home and had confirmed the incident.
“Further, Mr Shaik confirmed that indeed he had also violated his parole conditions by not seeking permission to venture outside of his home outside of the times he is permitted to do so,” she said.
She said that as a sanction, Shaik’s parole privileges would in future be “subjected to further restrictions”.
He would no longer be allowed to visit his doctor’s rooms.
Medical consultation would have to take place at his home or at a place determined or approved by his parole officer.
His “free time” had been reduced from six to two hours, but his privilege of attending prayers at a mosque on Fridays had not been affected.
“Mr Shaik has been issued with a formal warning,” she said.
“The case officer [parole officer] handling Mr Shaik’s parole has also been changed and a senior official has been allocated to Mr Shaik.
“Mr Shaik’s behaviour will be monitored and may be reviewed after six months in line with policy.”
The minister said these punitive measures were not a pronouncement on Shaik’s health “but purely deal with clear violations of parole conditions as would be the case with any other parolee”.
Her spokesperson, Sonwabo Mbananga, said “free time” was time in which Shaik could go anywhere he wanted, such as the beach, or shopping, within his magisterial district. He said Shaik’s free time had been shifted from noon to 6pm on a Saturday, to noon to 2pm on a Sunday.
Mapisa-Nqakula’s statement came after she earlier on Tuesday received a report from correctional services’s acting KwaZulu-Natal regional commissioner, Mnikelwa Nxele.
Earlier this year Shaik was reportedly seen playing golf in Durban, also in apparent violation of his parole conditions.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance’s spokesperson on correctional services, James Selfe, said the sanctions involved little more than restricting Shaik’s free time, and constituted a “slap on the wrist”.
“Mr Shaik has broken his parole conditions repeatedly, brazenly and unrepentantly,” he said in a statement. “Every other level one parolee who did what Mr Shaik did would have immediately been re-arrested and would have had to serve the rest of his sentence.”
Selfe said that what he referred to as “the decision” by Mapisa-Nqakula not to review Shaik’s release on medical parole was “a further chapter in a shameless chronicle of inversion of the law”.
“With every passing day and with every utterance from his foul mouth, it becomes increasingly clear that there is nothing medically wrong with Shaik, and that there never was.
“The decision to grant him medical parole was clearly illegal and politically motivated.”
Mbananga said a review of the medical parole had not been on the agenda on Tuesday. “The minister has acted and her actions are in the statement,” he said.
Civil rights initiative AfriForum said in reaction it welcomed the sanctions against Shaik.
“The swift and firm action of the Department of Correctional Services sends the clear message that nobody is above the law in the country,” it said.—Sapa
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