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Dying on dialysis and in debt – that’s the state of former top cop Jackie Selebi who was paroled from prison on Friday.
Selebi is likely to face a raft of medical and legal bills as the state cuts off its financial support to the ailing former police commissioner.
On Friday Correctional Services Minister S’bu Ndebele announced that Selebi, who was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure, “more than qualified” for medical parole.
Dr Ernest Kenoshi, the chief executive of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, where Selebi receives dialysis three times a day, said the former top cop would have to now foot his own medical bills.
“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,” said Kenoshi.
Selebi, who has served less than a year of his 15-year jail term, could also 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.
A senior hospital registrar at the hospital, Dr Anil Kurian, who oversees Selebi’s treatment, said the beleaguered former top cop was in a critical condition.
“Mr Selebi has end-stage renal disease for which he is receiving dialysis. End-stage renal disease means the person has irreversible kidney damage and they end up on dialysis for life.”
Meanwhile, opposition parties slammed the decision to release Selebi as “scandalous” preferential treatment on Friday, but the ANC welcomed the decision.
It would have been “insensitive” and “inhuman” of Correctional Services Minister S’bu Ndebele to ignore the decision of the medical parole advisory board, the ANC said.
But opposition parties remained sceptical over the claims of Selebi’s poor health, calling for full disclosure on his condition.
“Given the public’s cynicism around medical parole due to the Schabir Shaik fiasco, the minister must give us the assurance that the correct procedure has been followed,” said DA spokesman on correctional services James Selfe.
Selfe said it was essential that the government “comes entirely clean” about Selebi’s medical condition and the procedure followed in determining that he was “indeed terminally ill”.
Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said the awarding of medical parole to Selebi undermined the criminal justice system.
He questioned why Clive Derby-Lewis, who assassinated SACP leader Chris Hani, had not been granted parole despite suffering from cancer.
United Democratic Movement president Bantu Holomisa said he hoped Selebi had “learnt his lesson”, while the IFP’s spokesman on correctional services Velaphi Ndlovu called for the parole system to be reviewed.
The ANC, however, felt the decision was the right move.
“As the ANC we are satisfied that the parole was granted on its merit,” said ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu.
Chairman of the medical parole advisory board, Victor Ramathesele, said Selebi would remain in hospital, but would not be under the guardianship of the Correctional Services department.
Correctional Services commissioner Tom Moyane said Selebi’s release was a purely medical decision, determined by professionals.
Ndebele said that in the light of the strong recommendations for parole made by the medical parole advisory board, there had been no basis for denying Selebi his freedom.
The release follows a meeting of the 11-member parole board in Pretoria on June 20, to deliberate on 12 applications.
“Six offenders were recommended for medical parole. Three offenders died while documentation was under way. Three offenders were not recommended for parole,” Ndebele said.
Correctional Services chief deputy commissioner James Smallburger said the former top cop had signed the acceptance of the conditions to which he will be subject.
These have not yet been disclosed.
Selebi’s wife is a qualified nurse, but it is not clear if she will look after him, or if the family will hire professional help.
“There are a lot of financial implications and considerations to take into account before they can decide,” his lawyer, Wynanda Coetzee, said.
Selebi, who was convicted of corruption on July 2, 2010, was head of Interpol at the time of the investigation into claims that he received money from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti.