'What SA should have asked about Shaik’s terminal medical condition'

31 July 2017 - 14:27 By Suthentira Govender
Schabir Shaik. File photo.
Schabir Shaik. File photo.
Image: TMG

The Democratic Alliance is pushing for Schabir Shaik’s medical parole to be revisited by the courts.

James Selfe‚ the DA’s shadow minister of correctional services‚ said in a statement on Monday the party would be calling for Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha to take the issue of Shaik’s parole to court “to determine whether he should return to prison to serve the rest of his imprisonment”.

The DA also wants the courts to determine whether President Jacob Zuma’s former financial advisor’s “parole conditions should be altered in such a way that the South African public no longer have to be fed the lie that he is still terminal ill - eight years after his release”.

Shaik‚ whose parole will end in 2021‚ did not respond to request for comment.

Last week it emerged that Shaik is still regarded as being “terminally ill” - despite his house arrest conditions being relaxed in 2015 so that he can work and attend sports and school events if necessary.

This was revealed by Masutha in a response to a parliamentary question from the DA.

Shaik was released on medical parole on 3 March 2009 after serving only two years and four months of a 15-year sentence after being convicted on two counts of corruption and one count of fraud‚ with Judge Squires stating in his 165-page verdict that there was "overwhelming" evidence of a corrupt relationship between Shaik and Zuma.

Shaik‚ who served only 28 months of his 15-year sentence‚ was granted parole on medical grounds in 2009 after his doctors said he was terminally ill.

They said he was clinically depressed‚ was losing his eyesight‚ had a stroke and would die from “severe” high blood pressure.

Selfe said: “At the time of his release‚ medical parole was considered and granted in terms of section 79 of the Correctional Services Act‚ which‚ at that time‚ read as follow: ‘any person serving any sentence in a prison and who‚ based on the written evidence of the medical practitioner treating that person‚ is diagnosed as being in the final phase of any terminal disease or condition may be considered under correctional supervision or parole.. to die a consolatory and dignified death’.”

Selfe added: “He has not died "a consolatory and dignified death" eight years after his release‚ and frankly‚ he is so well that his parole conditions allow him‚ with permission to travel to other provinces.

“It is clear that he was never ‘in the final phase of any terminal disease or condition’.”

A doctor who did not want to be named weighed in on Shaik’s medical condition.

“I think we should look at the definition of terminally ill. It's a condition or disease where there’s no cure and the person will eventually die.

“The problem is that it can range from a short period to a slightly longer period. However that person should be very ill at some point so as not to be able to do daily tasks‚activities etc.

“Yes uncontrolled hypertension can have long term effects but where’s the proof he has end stage organ damage that is terminal?

“There should tests done to prove this. More info is needed to prove that the hypertension is terminal‚” the doctor said.

Logan Maistry‚ correctional services spokesman‚ said Shaik is complying with his parole conditions and is being monitor by the department.

“Mr. Shabir Shaik was released on medical parole on 3 March 2009. Medical parole for the said offender was granted in terms of the provisions of Section 79 of the Correctional Services Act‚ Act No. 111 of 1998‚ before it was amended.

“Therefore‚ he was considered in terms of the then applicable legislation. At the time‚ the said parolee was diagnosed as being in the final phase of a terminal disease.

“The medical parole legislation has since been reviewed‚ and Section 14 of the Correctional Services Amendment Act‚ Act No. 5 of 2011‚ introduced the new medical parole system‚ which came into effect on 1 March 2012. It is well-known that new legislation cannot be arbitrarily effected retrospectively‚” Maistry said.