Noni Mokati and YOLANDE DU PREEZ
Jackie Selebi may be free but he 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.
Yesterday Correctional Services Minister S’bu Ndebele announced that Selebi, who was diagnosed with end stage renal failure, “more than qualified” for medical parole as his condition had reached an irreversible state.
But Dr Ernest Kenoshi, the chief executive of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, where Selebi received 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 would be his choice should he wish to return to the hospital or go to another facility.”
And 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.
“Our legal team has advised that the matter relating to the legal settlement is currently under consideration between the state’s lawyers and Mr Selebi’s attorneys.
“As such I am unable to give further details pertaining to the exact time frame and when the matter will be finalised.”
Selebi’s lawyer Fanus Cotzee said he couldn’t anticipate the outcome of 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.
Ndebele’s announcement followed after Selebi’s wife applied for medical parole on his behalf earlier this year.
James Smalberger, the deputy chief commissioner of the department, emphasised it was not cutting all ties with the former Interpol president, and that like any other offender Selebi still had to adhere to the rules and regulations of medical parole.
Smalberger said Selebi would remain in hospital until his treating doctor found him fit to be discharged.
He would then 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,” Smalberger explained. “We need to discuss them with him (Selebi) and he needs to agree to those conditions.”
Since starting his jail term in December, Selebi has spent the past three-and-a-half months in the nephrology unit of the hospital where he was admitted in February.
Dr Victor Ramathesele, the chairman of the medical parole advisory board, said 12 offenders had applied for medical parole this year. Selebi was one of six offenders whose applications under section 79 of the Correctional Services Act were successful.
Ndebele said a medical parole advisory board of 11 medical practitioners provided the department with independent medical reports.
The offenders who were granted medical parole all suffered from medical conditions, which were deemed terminal, chronic and had reached an irreversible stage.
Selebi collapsed at his Waterkloof home in December after hearing that his appeal against his conviction had failed.
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.
Earlier this year, a group calling itself the Friends of Jackie requested Selebi’s release on medical parole. The department turned down their request.