'I discharged Shaik months ago from hospital'

The head of cardiology at Inkosi Albert Luthuli hospital in Durban discharged Schabir Shaik four months ago because he was considered well enough to leave, the Sunday Times reported on Sunday.

However, when the hospital board and correctional services intervened, Shaik did not return to hospital but remained in the ward until his controversial parole this week, the newspaper said.

"We managed him, and I was personally responsible for discharging him months ago. But he remained at the hospital until he was paroled this week," said head of the hospital's cardiology unit, Professor D P Naidoo. Shaik was officially paroled in November last year, the same time his application for parole was heard and adjourned to this month.

Naidoo was reportedly told by a member of the hospital's management that Shaik would remain there until correctional services had made a decision about where to place him.

"I was told it was beyond my control. It was in the hands of hospital management and correctional services," said Naidoo. Responding to this, correctional services department spokesperson Manelisi Wolela was quoted as saying: "None of our front-line people know of this. They are astonished by the allegation."

He said if evidence were produced that show the parole procedure had been compromised, it could be the basis of a review.

Meanwhile, KwaZulu Natal health spokesperson Leon Mbangwa said he would need Naidoo's statement in writing before he could investigate further.

Shaik has been in and out of hospital at least four times since his imprisonment.

He was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2005 on two counts of corruption and one of fraud, which, among other things, related to an alleged bribe he negotiated between ANC president Jacob Zuma and a French arms company. - Sapa

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