'Why is Zuma denying claim?'
Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance has questioned President Jacob Zuma's statement that convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik has not applied for a pardon.
James Selfe, the party spokesperson on correctional services, said on Monday that when Zuma told an e.tv interviewer: "Why should I pardon him when he has not applied?" that horse had already bolted.
On 19 October last year, the DA established that Shaik had applied for a presidential pardon.
An official in the private secretary's office of the Presidency confirmed this to the party, after consulting a pardons database.
The Presidency subsequently issued a statement confirming the pardon.
The statement said: "The Presidency received an application for pardon from Mr Shabir Shaik last year, on 24 April 2008. The application will be processed like all other applications.
"The president must consider every application brought before him in terms of his Constitutional responsibilities, as outlined in Section 84 (2) (j) of the Constitution of the Republic."
'Has Zuma forgotten?'
"Is this a downright mistruth?" Selfe asked.
"Has he just forgotten? Whatever the case, it is clearly not true that Shaik - who has himself been quoted demanding a presidential pardon when speaking to reporters - has not applied for a pardon."
"An application for a presidential pardon made by a man who was sentenced to 15 years as a consequence of his corrupt relationship with the president is hardly a trivial matter," Selfe continued.
"If Shaik were to be pardoned, it would signify that even where the justice system prevails, its impact and rulings can be undermined by a political party that is determined to bend the rule of law to suit its interests.
"The fact that the president has misled the public on this matter warrants an urgent explanation.
"It is starting to look as if the President is concealing something much bigger, and that is a quid pro quo pardon of a variety of offenders, none of whom qualify to be pardoned."