Former police chief Jackie Selebi and former financial adviser to President Jacob Zuma, Schabir Shaik, will benefit from a special remission of sentences announced on Freedom Day, according to a report on Saturday.
Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said both men qualified for an 18-month remission of their sentences.
She said they were part of thousands who will be released early.
“Obviously, they will benefit like all other inmates but there is no special amnesty or pardoning of Schabir Shaik and Jackie Selebi,” the minister said, according to SABC radio news.
In 2005, the Durban High Court sentenced Shaik to 15 years in prison for fraud and corruption. His sentence effectively ends in 2021.
In March 2009, Shaik was released on medical parole after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. He served two years and four months of his sentence.
Selebi was convicted of corruption on 2 July 2010, and handed a 15-year sentence.
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj, and Justice ministry spokesman Tlali Tlali referred all enquiries to Correctional Services spokesman Sonwabo Mbananga who could not immediately be reached for comment.
Earlier, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said more than 35 000 offenders could be released, depending on an assessment, on a special remission of sentence, as announced by President Jacob Zuma.
“The special remission...will see all sentenced inmates, probationers and parolees granted a six month remission of sentence...and an additional 12 months,” he told a media briefing in Pretoria. “This will reduce the level of overcrowding in Correctional Centres from 34 percent to approximately 20 percent.”
It was estimated that around 20 855 probationers and parolees, and 14 651 sentenced inmates would be released “conditionally or unconditionally” in terms of an assessment process.
“The completion of a compulsory pre-release assessment and the attendance of...the programme is a prerequisite before the conditional or unconditional release of offenders can take place,” explained Mthethwa.
Offenders who qualify can only be released from May 14 this year in “controllable groups”.
Zuma announced on Friday that his administration would grant the special remission to specific categories of sentenced offenders, probationers and parolees.
In South Africa the granting of special remissions is governed by placing safety first and promoting shared responsibility for the correction of offending behaviour and rehabilitation, Mthethwa said.
He said Zuma had ensured that the process would be a fair non-discriminatory and transparent one where certain categories of prisoners would be excluded from aspects of the proposed remission.
“Such exclusion is justified on the basis (of) public interest and concern and the prevalence of serious offences, the integrity of the criminal justice system and the administration of justice,” said Mthethwa.
Those sentenced for aggressive, sexual, firearm and drug related offences would not qualify for the special remission.
“Remission will exclude all escapees and absconders who are still at large... This will reduce the level of overcrowding in Correctional Centres from 34 percent to approximately 20 percent,” said the police minister. - Sapa