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Johannesburg - Not releasing terminally ill prisoners would be a serious violation of the Constitution, ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga said on Friday.
“The Correctional Matters Amendment Act... ensures that the rights of offenders who are seriously and terminally ill are protected, and that they can request release on medical grounds,” Motshekga said in a statement.
“To not release terminally ill prisoners would not only be a serious violation of the Constitution, but a morally repugnant abuse of human rights.”
He said corruption-convicted former top cop Jackie Selebi's release on medical parole was in line with the new medical parole policy.
Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele announced in Pretoria on Friday that Selebi had been granted medical parole.
An 11-member medical parole advisory board met, on June 20, and recommended the release of six offenders, including Selebi who needed dialysis for kidney failure.
The United Democratic Movement said it hoped that Selebi had “learnt his lesson”.
“We also hope that his incarceration sent a strong message that crime does not pay,” UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said in a statement.
The Democratic Alliance said that given the public's cynicism around medical parole due to the Schabir Shaik “fiasco”, Ndebele had to give assurances that the correct procedure had been followed.
“Given the huge degree of public scepticism about medical parole, it is essential that the government comes entirely clean about Mr Selebi’s medical condition and the procedure that was followed in determining that he is indeed terminally ill,” DA MP James Selfe said in a statement.
In 2005, the Durban High Court sentenced Shaik to 15 years imprisonment for fraud and corruption. His sentence effectively ends in 2021.
But in March 2009, Shaik was released on parole, apparently with a terminal illness, which sparked controversy and accusations of special treatment because of his political connections.
The Congress of the People said it was worried Selebi's release was sending a message that not everyone was equal before the law.
“We believe his release will encourage people to do (commit) more crime and corruption without fear of being punished for their actions,” Cope MP Dennis Bloem said.
“We were informed by media reports about Mr Selebi's ill-health, but no one has medical records, or facts, on the state of his health.”
There were other prisoners who could not even feed themselves and were in dire need of help.
Bloem said the party would follow the matter up with the department of correctional services. - Sapa