Selebi to foot medical bills: Hospital

By Drum Digital
20 July 2012

Convicted former police chief Jackie Selebi will now pay his own medical bills, the hospital where he is being treated said on Friday, following the announcement of his release from prison.

Chief executive of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, Ernest Kenoshi, said the embattled former police chief would be paying like any other patient at the government facility.

"From now on, Mr Selebi will be just like any other patient in a State hospital. He will be discharged when the doctors say he is fit enough to be discharged from hospital," he said.

"[The] correctional services department has been taking care of his treatment (payment) up to today. From now on, it is up to him; there is a tariff of fees, governed by the national department of health."

Correctional services commissioner Tom Moyane said Selebi's release was a purely medical decision, determined by professionals.

"It's not our decision, it's a medical decision and morality doesn't come into it. It's a purely medical decision, which we have come to acknowledge and to accept," he said.

Correctional Services Minister Sbu Ndebele said that in the light of the strong recommendations for parole made by the medical parole advisory board, there was no basis for denying Selebi his freedom.

"On what basis would you say let him die? We have heard of three inmates who died while deliberations (for their release on parole) were underway," he said.

Selebi's release follows a meeting of the 11-member parole board in Pretoria, on June 20, to deliberate on 12 applications.

"Six offenders were recommended for medical parole. Three offenders died while documentation was underway. Three offenders were not recommended for parole," Ndebele said earlier.

"Mr Selebi will be released today. Another offender is expected to be released next week. Two offenders were released on the 9th and 12th of July," he said.

The six offenders, including Selebi, met the criteria stipulated in the Correctional Services Act for release on medical parole.

"These (conditions) include that all suffered from a medical condition which is terminal, chronic, progressive and has deteriorated or reached an irreversible state," he said.

A senior registrar from the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Dr Anil Kurian, who is in charge of Selebi's treatment, said the beleaguered former top cop was in a critical condition.

"Mr Selebi has end-stage renal disease for which he is receiving dialysis. End-stage renal disease means the person has irreversible kidney damage and they end up on dialysis for life," he said.

“This is a permanent condition for which you require dialysis for survival. We manage this kind of patient on a day-in-day-out basis, and unfortunately the chorus does not change," said Kurian.

Chairman of the medical parole advisory board, Victor Ramathesele, said Selebi would remain at the hospital, but would not be under the guardianship of the correctional services department.

"He has been released on medical parole, but has not been discharged just yet. Doctors who have been looking after him have ensured that there is going to be continuation of proper medication [for Selebi] like any other South African.

"When the doctors feel he has to leave the hospital, they will exercise that clinical judgement at that point," he said.

Regarding the terms and conditions for Selebi after his release, Correctional Services Chief Deputy Commissioner James Smallburger said the former top cop had signed the acceptance of the conditions he will be subject to.

"Since the minister has announced that Mr Selebi will be released today, that means he will be released from the correctional centre, but will be handed to community corrections system," said Smallburger.

"The conditions will be finalised when he is handed to the system; he will also sign an acceptance thereof. He has already signed that he will subject himself to conditions applicable to him as an individual," he said.

Deputy Correctional Services Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said Selebi would not be going back to prison, even if he recovered from his grave illness.

"He doesn't have to be dying for him to be released. If for some reason Mr Selebi gets better, we don't expect him to come back to our (prison) facilities, as long as he observes the conditions of the parole," said Ramatlhodi.

Selebi's wife is a qualified nurse, but it was not clear if she would look after him, or if the family would hire professional help.

"There are a lot of financial implications and considerations to take [into account] before they can decide," his lawyer, Wynanda Coetzee, said.

Selebi was president of Interpol at the time of the investigation into claims that he received money from convicted drug trafficker and police informer Glenn Agliotti.

He was convicted of corruption on July 2, 2010, and handed a 15-year jail sentence.

Selebi appealed against the corruption conviction in the Supreme Court of Appeal. In December 2011, he collapsed at his home in Waterkloof, Pretoria, while watching the appeal judgment on television. His appeal was denied.

This meant he had to begin his 15-year jail sentence for corruption. It was decided he would stay in Pretoria Central Prison's medical wing indefinitely.

At the time, he had not instructed his medical team to apply for medical parole.

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