Photo: Etienne Creux

If a benefactor comes forward and offers to pay former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi’s medical bills, his family may apply for him to be moved to a private hospital.

Selebi arrived at Pretoria Central Prison just after 4pm on Monday in a wheelchair.

He spent his first night of a 15-year jail term in the prison’s medical wing on Monday.

Correctional Services Department spokeswoman Sibongile Khumalo said this morning that the hospital wing at Pretoria Central was able to handle serious conditions, including dialysis. Selebi reportedly needs dialysis daily and may need a kidney transplant.

“Our hospitals are very, very good. We can take care of many conditions.”

But if any inmate, or his family, was unhappy with the hospital conditions, they could make an application for the inmate to be moved to a private hospital under the care of a private doctor, she added.

“We don’t turn down those applications, but it is at the inmate’s expense.

“And if all the reports about Mr Selebi are true, then he is in a dire financial situation and might not be able to afford it, unless he has a friend who is willing to pay for him.”

Asset Forfeiture Unit head Willie Hofmeyr told SABC radio news on Monday that the money paid to Selebi amounted to about R165 000.

“We’ve already obtained a confiscation order. We are waiting for the finalisation of the appeals and then that money will be payable… Our law entitles us to adjust those to inflation, so the total order we obtained (was) for about R230 000,” Hofmeyr told the broadcaster.

Selebi was discharged from his bed at the Jakaranda Hospital in Pretoria, where was recovering from a suspected stroke, after an eleventh-hour bid to postpone the start of his prison term failed at the Johannesburg High Court earlier on Monday.

Selebi had collapsed at his home in Waterkloof on Friday, minutes after hearing that the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein had dismissed his appeal to overturn his sentence. He was taken to hospital, but had to report to prison on Monday.

Khumalo said that when Selebi is moved into cells he would be put in a private cell and not with the general population.

“He will be classed with group A status,” said Khumalo.

She said the category was for former police force members, former members of the defence force, elderly people and those needing medical treatment.

“It means they receive some form of preferential treatment,” said Khumalo.

“Mr Selebi is not classed as a violent criminal, so it is probably more for his own safety.”

She said the former top cop would then be allowed to study or take part in developmental and skills programmes like all prisoners, which helps with parole.

The spokeswoman said it was an unusual situation to have a high-profile prisoner arrive at their facilities in an ambulance, so they would have to assess Selebi’s situation as time goes on.

Last night, prison authorities said Selebi could speak properly but could not walk.

Correctional Services deputy chief of corrections Zacharia Modise said Selebi was accompanied by his lawyer, Wynanda Coetzee, and SAPS members.

“He was welcomed into the facilities by senior staff members of Correctional Services, including myself. All necessary preparations were done before he could be admitted into our facilities,” said Modise.

“We had to do it because Mr Selebi is not well. He was able to talk to us but was unable to walk properly on his own.

“We explained to him and his family the reasons for incarceration and that… he was at Pretoria Central Prison as a result of a court order. It was difficult for his family to accept, but they understood.”

On arrival, Selebi was checked by a resident doctor at the hospital and a social worker. He was expected to see a psychologist on Tuesday to establish his state of mind.

Later, prison authorities will conduct a security assessment to determine which prison will be best suited for Selebi.

“We all know that Mr Selebi was the former national police commissioner, therefore it would be necessary to… determine which prison he should go to. We need to know where to keep him safe,” said Modise.

In the meantime, prison authorities have ruled out talks of early parole.

“He is going to serve his term of 15 years. At the moment, parole is not considered as it is too early. He might be considered, like any other offender, at a later stage,” said Modise.

The Star understands that Selebi might be considered for parole after serving seven to 10 years, depending on his conduct behind bars.

President Jacob Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was released from prison on medical parole after serving just two years and four months of a 15-year prison sentence for fraud and corruption.

Much of this time was spent in prison hospitals. - The Star