Shaik's condition 'not improving'

2009-05-21 11:05
Durban - Since his release from prison more than two months ago, convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik has spent most of his days inside his Durban home heavily medicated, his family said on Thursday.

"He hangs around the house every single day," Shaik's brother Yunus told Sapa.

"He only went out once to visit his father-in-law and that was it. He never leaves the house."

Yunus said his brother's health was not improving.

Shaik was reportedly suffering from hypertension, high blood pressure, depression and chest pains.

"His condition cannot improve because there was permanent damage to him," said Yunus.

"This sort of illness won't improve, he just has to take medication and he will continue to take it for the rest of his life."

Condition being monitored

KwaZulu-Natal health department spokesperson Chris Maxon said the department had not been monitoring Shaik's medical condition because it was not part of their "jurisdiction".

"He came to us as a prisoner and it's up to the correctional services department to check on him, depending on what his parole conditions were."

Yunus said his brother's doctor and officials from the correctional services department had been visiting him regularly to monitor his condition.

Correctional services spokesperson Manelisi Wolela was in a meeting on Thursday and not immediately available to comment.

However, a correctional official who refused to be named, said even if Shaik's condition improved, he would not be sent back to prison unless he violated his parole conditions.

It was the same sentiment uttered by the department on Shaik's release.

At the time, the department said officials would visit his family once a month and that Shaik would be confined to his magisterial district.

Wolela in March stressed that Shaik could not be re-arrested even if his health improved.

"The only grounds on which [a paroled prisoner] could be released would be if he or she re-offended or violated the conditions of his or her parole."

Request for review of parole

On Wednesday, the Democratic Alliance said it had asked Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to request the Parole Board to review the granting of medical parole to the convicted fraudster.

The party's correctional services spokesperson James Selfe said he had sent a letter to the newly appointed minister on Tuesday and was waiting for a response.

The minister was the only person who could ask the parole board, headed by Judge Siraj Desai, to review the decision.

"This is quite important because there are hundreds of inmates who are too sick to lift their heads off their pillows and yet they are refused medical parole," said Selfe.

He said there was still scepticism about whether Shaik's illness was terminal.

Yunus described Shaik as being "gravely ill".

Shaik, the former financial adviser to President Jacob Zuma, served just over two years of his 15-year prison term, most of which was spent in hospital.

Shaik was convicted on two counts of corruption and one of fraud which, among other things, related to an alleged bribe facilitation between Zuma and French arms company Thint.

The charges against Zuma and Thint were later dropped.

- SAPA
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