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Convicted former police chief Jackie Selebi was released on medical parole on Friday, but will remain in the Steve Biko Academic Hospital until he is well enough to be discharged.
Selebi, who has served less than a year of his 15-year jail term, has been diagnosed with “end-stage” renal failure and is receiving dialysis three times a day.
The announcement on Friday by Correctional Services Minister S’bu Ndebele came after Selebi’s wife applied for medical parole on his behalf earlier this year.
Selebi, who has been in and out of hospital since starting his 15-year jail term on December 5 has spent the past three-and-a-half months in the nephrology unit of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital after he was admitted there in February this year.
Selebi was the president of Interpol until 2009 and national police commissioner between January 2000 and January 2008. He was convicted of corruption on July 2, 2010, for accepting money and favours from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti.
In return, he provided Agliotti with benefits, including confidential information. Selebi appealed against his sentence and last year his appeal was turned down by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Ndebele said Selebi’s medical condition had reached an irreversible state and he “more than qualifies” for medical parole.
Steve Biko Academic Hospital chief executive Dr Ernest Kenoshi confirmed that Selebi was still in hospital. Although he would be released from the correctional facility, he would not be discharged from hospital yet.
He said Selebi wasn’t receiving any special treatment, adding that, to date, the department had taken care of his medical costs. But once Selebi had been released, he would be responsible for his own medical costs. “He will have to pay like any other state patient and it will be his choice should he wish to return to the hospital or go to another facility,” Kenoshi said.
Deputy Commissioner of Correctional Services James Smalberger said once Selebi was released from hospital, he would be transferred to a community corrections centre where the conditions of his parole would be discussed.
“At this stage we cannot say what those conditions are. We need to discuss them with him (Selebi) and he needs to agree to those conditions,” he said.
Ndebele explained that all offenders and detainees had a right to adequate health care services and in terms of the Correctional Services Act, the Department of Correctional Services had to provide primary healthcare services and refer patients to external health care facilities for secondary and tertiary levels of health care.
Ndebele said a medical parole advisory board of 11 medical practitioners provided the department with independent medical reports.
Chairman of the medical parole advisory board, Dr Victor Ramathesele, said 12 offenders had applied for medical parole this year.
“Three offenders died while the applications were being processed, three were denied medical parole while six others were granted parole. Two of the offenders were released on July 9 and 12, while Jackie Selebi will be released today and another offender is expected to be released next week,” he said.
The offenders, who had been granted medical parole all suffered from medical conditions which were terminal, chronic and had reached an irreversible stage.
Earlier this year, a group calling itself the “Friends of Jackie Selebi” requested that Selebi be released on medical parole. Their request was turned down by the department.
Selebi’s legal representative, Wynanda Coetzee, did not want to comment.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that
Selebi could be forced to cough up the R17 million in legal fees he incurred during his trial in 2010.
The Ministry of Police said last night that it could not comment on its bid to recover legal fees owed to the state by Selebi, but spokesman Zweli Mnisi said the matter was being discussed.
Another Selebi lawyer, Fanus Coetzee, said he couldn’t anticipate the outcome over his client’s pending debt.
“The issue still has to be discussed. Let’s just see where it’s going. Let’s take it one step at a time and not try to solve all the problems at one time,” he said.
SELEBI’S HOSPITAL HISTORY
* December 2 last year – Admitted to the Netcare Jakaranda Hospital after collapsing at his Waterkloof home while watching his failed appeal on TV. It was claimed that he had suffered a partial stroke.
* December 5 – Discharged from Netcare Jakaranda Hospital and wheeled into Pretoria Central Prison where he was due to start his 15-year jail term.
* December 13 – Admitted to Steve Biko Academic Hospital for high blood sugar levels, as well as precautionary observation.
* December 19 – Admitted to Steve Biko Academic Hospital again. Selebi spent Christmas in hospital under armed guard.
* February 25 – Admitted to Steve Biko Academic Hospital for dialysis.
* July 20 – Selebi, who has not been discharged from hospital since February, is released on medical parole but will remain in hospital until well enough to be discharged.