Concern raised over Selebi’s medical parole

Two opposition parties voiced concern on Monday over reports that former police chief and convicted fraudster Jackie Selebi was spotted shopping in Pretoria.

"If Mr Selebi had indeed made a miraculous recovery from his illness or not been adhering to all his parole conditions, the decision to release him could potentially be reviewed," said Democratic Alliance MP James Selfe. 

Freedom Front Plus spokesperson Pieter Groenewald said Selebi's "shopping spree over the weekend" made a mockery of the country's justice system. "Medical parole is being used as a political instrument to get loyal ANC supporters out of jail."

Selebi was released on medical parole last year after serving only 229 days of his 15-year prison sentence. Selfe said the correctional services department stated at the time of his release that Selebi had "a medical condition which is terminal, chronic, progressive and has deteriorated or reached an irreversible state".

"It was reported that Mr Selebi had end-stage renal disease for which he was receiving dialysis. End-stage renal disease means the person has irreversible kidney damage and they end up on dialysis for life," said Selfe.

Given public scepticism about medical parole in South Africa, it is essential that the department monitor convicted criminals released on parole to determine whether the parole conditions remained valid. "There cannot be one law for the politically connected and another for the rest of us," Selfe said.

Groenewald said: "The message is that if one has the right political connections, one can commit crimes and if you are sent to jail it will only be temporarily."

'Life of luxury'
It is clear Selebi was leading a life of luxury while owing the state R17.4-million for legal fees, he said. 

Selebi was pictured in Beeld newspaper on Monday being chauffeured in his luxury BMW 6-series to a shopping centre in Monument Park to buy the Sunday papers. He walked without any assistance and, according to Beeld, seemed to be in good health.

Selebi told reporters his illness kept him at home and prevented him from driving. The medical parole board on July 20 2012 decided that Selebi could be released because he was suffering from irreversible kidney failure, high blood pressure and diabetes. His sudden decline into ill health surprised independent doctors, who said kidney failure was normally a disease with slow progression.

At the time of his release on medical parole, Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said Selebi was being sent home because his department had limited capacity to provide care for terminally ill patients.

Selebi was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment on August 3 2010 for taking bribes from convicted drug dealer Glenn Agliotti. He collapsed at his house in December 2011 after his final appeal failed. – Sapa

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