Wife killer turns to high court for parole
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He has spent nearly 20 years of his effective 50-year jail term behind bars for his part in killing his wife Zahida Sabadia in 1996, and now Omar Sabadia feels he is entitled to his freedom.
Sabadia made headlines when he was arrested for the murder of his wife, who was a university medical student at the time.
Zahida went missing in February 1996, and her body was found 22 days later tied to a tree in Ga-Rankuwa.
Her husband led a team of detectives to the spot where she was killed, after he had made a confession.
She had been strangled, not far from where she and her husband were “hijacked”, after buying food at a fast-food outlet.
It later emerged that Sabadia, a father of three and a well-known psychiatrist, had hired hitmen to murder her.
He was sentenced to 50 years in prison. The hitmen also received harsh sentences - Albert Moeketsane (40 years), Richard Malema (25 years), and Patrick Manyape (25 years).
While the three have since been released on parole, Sabadia still remains behind bars at the Kgosi Mampuru II correctional centre in Pretoria.
But the words of the judge who sentenced him in 1998 came back to haunt him, as it was recommended he serve at least 35 years of his sentence before parole could be considered.
Sabadia this week turned to the high court in Pretoria for an urgent order that the parole board consider his release.
In terms of an order, which was made by agreement between the parties, the board should within 30 days consider his suitability for parole.
It was said in court papers that he had at least on two occasions appeared before the board for a parole hearing.
The board at first said it could not consider his placement on parole until 2032, due to the recommendation made by the judge during his sentencing.
It was later argued on behalf of Sabadia before the board that a court has no control over the minimum period of sentence which ought to be served by a prisoner.
It was said that the function of a sentencing court was to determine the term of imprisonment and it could never interfere with the functions of the parole board.
The board, however, stood its ground and said if Sabadia wanted it to disregard the recommendations made by the judge, he should turn to court. It was also said that as his parole hearing at the time was during Women’s Month, it would not look good if his parole was considered.
He subsequently obtained a court order in September 2016, during which the board
was ordered to consider his placement on parole within 60 days.
The board convened last December, but then stood down as it first wanted to meet with Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba for directions regarding the sentencing remarks.
A frustrated Sabadia said that was the last he had heard from the parole board.