Shaik had 'permission' to use luxury retreat

The Department of Correctional Services said on Friday that Schabir Shaik's parole officer had given him permission to recuperate in a luxury lodge after his release from prison last year.

"He did get permission from his correctional services officer at that time," said Sonwabo Mbananga, in response to a Mail & Guardian report that Shaik spent three nights at the Thanda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal in June.

Mbananga said the decision had been based on motivation by a medical doctor, who had recommended that it would be good for Shaik's recuperation. The department did not pay for the stay.

Shaik, a former financial adviser to President Jacob Zuma, was released from prison on the grounds of terminal illness last year. He had been convicted for fraud.

Various public "sightings" of Shaik have upset opposition parties, who believe he is receiving political favour.

However, Mbananga said that Shaik had admitted to being out in public twice beyond his parole hours and without informing his parole officer.

Mbananga said these sightings related to being seen at a garage, and speaking to a journalist.

He said that Shaik, as a "phase two" prisoner, and not a "phase one" as suggested by the opposition DA, had been given a written warning that should he violate his parole conditions again, "he would be re-accommodated at a correctional services facility".

His going out hours had also been reduced from time for Mosque on Friday and between noon and 4pm on Saturday, to between noon and 2pm on Sunday.

"We curtailed his free time... we have given him an official warning," said Mbananga.

He added that as long as Shaik's parole officer had been informed and had granted him permission, Shaik would be covered if he ventured out beyond these hours.

This applied to all parolees, and those who felt they had been treated unfairly should lodge a complaint, he said. - Sapa

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