Professor Cyril Karabus

South African doctor Cyril Karabus still hopes to leave the United Arab Emirates (UAE) tomorrow, despite an error on his visa.

Karabus's lawyer Michael Bagraim said on Wednesday that the date of his entry into the country on his visa was incorrect.

“This means that if someone checked his passport against his visa it would seem as though he had been in the country illegally for a period of time.”

He described the situation as “an absolute nightmare”.

Bagraim said Karabus was distraught as the office responsible for handling visas had closed for the day, and he was meant to catch a flight to South Africa tomorrow.

“He will try at the airport tomorrow, but it's a real problem as there is no guarantee he will get it in time.”

If the problem could not be rectified at the airport, Karabus could have to wait until Sunday because, in the Islamic country, public offices close on Thursday around midday for the Islamic Friday sabbath, known as Jumaah.

Bagraim praised the South African consul for his dedication in helping Karabus.

“He has been unbelievable, he is sitting with Karabus now. He is even taking him to the airport tomorrow in his personal car,” Bagraim said.

The 78-year-old paediatric oncologist had been detained in the UAE since August 18, after being sentenced in absentia for the death of a Yemeni girl he treated for leukaemia in 2002.

Karabus was acquitted on March 21, and won a subsequent appeal. His return to South Africa was delayed because he was on the UAE's database as a fugitive from justice.