Selebi gravely ill – parole board

2012-08-07 14:18

Former police chief Jackie Selebi had kidney failure, a stroke, heart and eye disease, a pulmonary embolism, and motor function impairment, MPs were told.

This was why he was paroled, and not because he was politically connected, vice-chairperson of the Medical Parole Board, Angelique Coetzee, said today.

She said Selebi had been suffering from kidney disease before his trial, but decided not to disclose it.

“He was being treated long before his trial by a well-known physician,” she told Parliament’s portfolio committee on correctional services.

“When he was incarcerated in December it was not the first time that he was aware of his chronic end-stage renal failure. On his admission, he was in acute and chronic end-stage failure. The only treatment for that is dialysis, otherwise he would have died.”

She said Selebi also suffered a stroke and a pulmonary embolism this year, and had severe kidney complications.

“The problem with Mr Selebi’s dialysis is that you are using the lining of the peritoneal cavity of the body as a filter, so if you get infections into that lining you cannot dialyse him any more; and then he will die.”

She said he had two infections this year, and needed four dialysis sessions daily. His motor function illness also made it hard for him to dialyse himself.

“There was no favouritism, no minister phoning us. This is a clinical diagnosis,” a visibly exasperated Coetzee said.

“We have got evidence of all the stuff that we are saying here.”

Selebi (62), was sentenced to 15 years in jail for taking bribes from a convicted drug dealer Glenn Agliotti. He started his sentence in December after his final appeal failed.

National commissioner of correctional services Thomas Swahibi said the department realised there was a public perception that Selebi “was faking it” and wanted to dispel any notion of favouritism.

“I am comforted by the fact that the decision the department took was on principle,” he told MPs.

“I am trying to paint a scenario that it was not in terms of preference as to which political party he belongs to.”

Without explicitly mentioning the Schabir Shaik case, he said the department had tried to handle the Selebi case as transparently as possible because medical parole had become a controversial issue.

“We as the department ... convened a press conference, so the world and the country should know what we are dealing with and we should not be tarred with the same errors, if they were there in the past.”

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