Minister reiterates call for public to come forward with evidence

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pretoria - Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Enver Surty has reiterated that any member of the public who has evidence that the grounds on which Shabir Shaik was granted medical parole was tainted, should make a representation to the minister of correctional services.

"If there are sufficient grounds to believe that the evidence was tainted, that representation should be made to the minister for consideration," Minister Surty said.

Mr Shaik, who was convicted of fraud, was released on medical parole this week. He was serving 28 months of a 15-year jail term for fraud and corruption.

Mr Shaik was released in terms of the Correctional Services Act which states that a prisoner can be released on medical parole only if he or she is diagnosed as "being in the final phase of any terminal disease or condition".

Speaking during the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster briefing at the Union Buildings on Thursday, Minister Surty said that he was certain that Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour was satisfied that Mr Shaik's parole had been in compliance with the law.

Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour on Tuesday issued a statement saying that Mr Shaik had satisfied the legal requirements to be released as a medical parolee due to a terminal condition.

He further confirmed that the medical parole decision would not be referred to the Parole Review Board as evidence on Mr Shaik's health was given to the parole board by three medical practitioners and his condition was irreversible.

However, the minister called on the public to provide evidence should they have any other additional evidence on Mr Shaik's medical condition.

Meanwhile, Minister Surty said on Thursday that although the public had the right to know what the specific grounds for medical parole were, this right needed to be balanced with an individual's right to privacy.

The minister said in 2007 and 2008, 70 and 54 prisoners had been granted medical parole respectively, without the interference of other people. "Thirty-six percent of those that were released have passed on," he said.

Referring to the Shaik matter he said: "This is not an unprecedented event."