Shaik's release: Disgusting farce, say opposition parties

2009-03-03 00:00

Cape Town — Opposition parties responded with outrage yesterday to the news that convicted Durban businessman Schabir Shaik has been granted medical parole, calling it a “disgusting” decision, a “farce” and a clear case of political interference.

Independent Democrats leader Patricia De Lille accused African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma of political interference and demanded a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding Shaik’s release.

“What about the thousands of other prisoners who were never fairly assessed by the parole boards, even though some of them were in the final stages of terminal illness? Shaik has been given preferential treatment throughout his sentence and his early release is the final proof of that,” she said.

“It is completely disgusting that there is such scant regard for procedures and the law in our country when a criminal has connections to high-profile politicians.”

Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesman on Correctional Services James Selfe called on the Correctional Services Department to disclose its grounds for Shaik’s medical parole. “Mr Shaik is a high-profile and controversial offender. While his medical condition is confidential … such disclosure will do much to dispel the notion that double standards are being applied,” Selfe said.

The DA spokesman said that given the fact that hundreds of other ill patients apply for parole, a longer-term solution lies in laying down defensible criteria for determining on what basis inmates will qualify for parole, and for applying these criteria uniformly across the country.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said Shaik does not qualify for release on medical parole. “We believe this must be seen in the context of a continuous campaign by the ruling party to undermine the judiciary of this country when it comes to its high-ranking members and those connected to them,” he said.

“Just this past weekend Jacob Zuma said in an interview he would pardon Shaik if he became president; and now, a few days later, Mr Shaik is released.”

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) spokeswoman Sybil Seaton said the decision comes as no surprise.

“It is a joke. It proves that if you are an ANC comrade anything is possible: even a get-out-of-jail-free card. Shaik’s stint in prison was nothing more than a farce and a waste of taxpayers’ money…”

African Christian Democrats Party spokesman Hendry Cupido called on Correctional Services to extend the privilege of medical parole to other terminally inmates.

“We encourage families of terminally ill inmates to set in motion the process to have their relatives released on medical parole. The privilege … is not only for high- profile and politically connected people, but for all,” Cupido said.

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