President Jacob Zuma has not denied that Schabir Shaik has applied for a presidential pardon, but said he had not yet seen the application, his spokesperson said on Tuesday.
“The president has over 300 applications before him and the president has not seen any of those,” said Vincent Magwenya in response to a Citizen headline “Pardon me? Who’s lying about Shaik request”.
This comes after Zuma said in an e.tv interview that Shaik had not applied for a pardon, but the Democratic Alliance found an old statement quoting the presidency as saying Shaik had applied for a pardon.
“People should stop stressing themselves about a matter that is clearly the president’s prerogative as empowered by the Constitution,” said Magwenya.
He said the debate around pardons did not serve any particular purpose, adding that the Constitution empowers only Zuma to grant or refuse a pardon.
“The president is not obligated by any timelines nor by any process. He will apply his mind over the applications at a time of his choosing and he will make his decision based on the facts and the information.
“No one can dictate to him how and when to go about exercising his constitutional prerogative.
“The whole assertion that the president was lying is completely untrue.”
Shaik served two years and four months of a 15-year-sentence for corruption until his release in March 2009 on medical parole, which is usually only granted to terminally ill patients.
He was subsequently photographed by a Rapport photographer driving and shopping in Durban in December.
Rapport and City Press newspapers reported on Sunday that former Vlakplaas commander Eugene de Kock might be granted a pardon in exchange for information about apartheid-era crimes. He is serving two life sentences and 212 years’ imprisonment in Pretoria’s C-Max prison for apartheid atrocities.
He has been in prison for 13 years.
The newspapers reported that De Kock’s release might divert attention from a possible pardon of Shaik and might be construed as a gesture of reconciliation toward Afrikaners.
It also emerged recently that Shaik stayed at the exclusive Zululand game lodge Thanda Private Game Reserve for three nights in June on a luxury safari junket, shortly after he was released from prison on medical parole.
The department of correctional services said after the report that Shaik had received permission from his parole officer to recuperate in the luxury lodge.