Thu Dec 08 16:21:01 SAST 2016

Is Selebi truly ill - or is it our justice system that's ailing?

The Times Editorial | 2012-07-23 00:43:45.0

The Times Editorial: The news that former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi will receive medical parole has, predictably, evoked a firestorm of responses.

His parole, on the basis that he has end-stage renal failure and needs daily dialysis treatment, has been met with suspicion by those who have been highly critical of convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik's release from prison in 2009, also on the basis of illness.

The fact that Selebi has only served 229 days of a 15-year sentence after being convicted of corruption and the suspicious nature of Shaik's release has led to speculation that the ANC has, once again, circumvented the rules to accommodate a comrade.

Over the following days, there will be many further questions asked of Selebi's parole and whether all prisoners receive the same, expeditious outcome when they make representations to the parole board on the basis of ill health.

Given the notorious state of South Africa's prison system, the long list of awaiting-trial prisoners and overcrowding in jails, it would appear - on the surface, at least - that Selebi's status as former commissioner might have assisted his parole appeal.

There are other questions that also require some answers - such as whether Selebi was pushed to the front of the queue for dialysis treatment at Steve Biko Academic Hospital, a public facility. It has also been reported that Selebi still enjoys the benefit of his police medical aid and pension.

It appears that Selebi, who disgraced the office he had held, has largely escaped punishment for his crimes.

Perhaps we should be congratulating him for outwitting the system by serving less than a year of his 15-year sentence. Now we just have to wait to see how his recovery fares - particularly since the changes made to parole rules in March would not require him to return to jail should his health improve.

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