New parole framework

2012-02-19 22:19

Pretoria - A newly-established parole board, consisting of medical practitioners, has been mandated to independently review all applications for medical parole, the department of correctional services said on Sunday.

It would be chaired by Dr Victor Ramathesele and would "look into all seriously and terminally ill inmates who had requested release on medical grounds", said Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

The Correctional Matters Amendment Act required a doctor to thoroughly motivate why a prisoner should be considered for medical parole.

This was then submitted to the "independent panel of medical practitioners for approval", after which the parole board would make an informed decision.

The new framework comes into effect on March 1.

Nqakula was speaking at a justice, crime prevention and security cluster briefing on strategic and tactical interventions developed to improve public safety, in line with President Jacob Zuma's commitment in his state of the nation address.

Public, family

She said that under the new framework, a member of the public, the concerned inmate or a family member could initiate the process of seeking medical parole.

"The [former national police commissioner] Jackie Selebi case was a talking point in the media. That request, made by a group [calling itself "Friends of Jackie Selebi"], could not be accepted under the current legislation.

"I responded to that application in terms of current law. That application can be made under a new framework in March," she said.

Selebi was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for corruption after accepting payments from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti, but appealed the conviction.

He had to be taken to hospital when he saw on television that his appeal had been denied.

Current legislation dictates that only a doctor treating an offender can recommend medical parole, which is why the "Friends of Jackie Selebi" application was thrown out.

"We should not trivialise this matter of parole. We have people who are critically ill in our centres," said Nqakula.

Electronic monitoring

"I know that when people hear about new parole provisions they think we are opening floodgates and letting people walk out. We are talking about extremely sick people here," she said.

"There will be people, with immediate effect, who will have to be considered for parole. The new framework doesn't mean when you are HIV positive and your CD4 count is low or if you have [tuberculosis] TB you will be let out. We give antiretroviral drugs and the CD4 picks up."

Nqakula said her department would also implement the use of electronic monitoring on parolees and probationers.

"This project involves 150 parolees, including 70 convicts on life sentences who are on parole.

"The aim here is to deal with overcrowding at correctional facilities and to minimise the possibility of violation of set parole conditions," she said.

There would also be new provisions for the parolees who will be monitored electronically.

"We would want to allow them to go out and look for employment and work then come home. We are able to monitor, on our system, their movements and we will also know if they are leaving the physical area we allowed them," she said.

The pilot project would cost R6m this year, but the minister said she did not know the costs of future projects.

  • Sylvia - 2012-02-19 23:12

    Hmmm....What perfect timing! Selebi will soon be home again.Maybe Derby- Lewis has a hope now.

  • Nikki Peeriyalal - 2012-02-20 00:09

    oh bloody! all this time people have been dying in those horrid conditions ! i suppose it took Special Assignment's broadcast to wake your'll off your fat asses....and get working like everyone else in SA who is employed. this government is a disgrace! build more prisons and employ more people into correctional facilities...and pay the doctors more decent salaries so they can look after those who cannot afford private medical care...and dammit! appoint doctors on these kind of panels that are not associated with politicians and persons of certain government management!!!

  • brionyl.french - 2012-02-20 06:33

    If we had harsher punishment for criminals and we made use of them like the americans like making them work in th sweage area or the dumps and street sweeping and what not, as well the eye for an eye scare tactic, our crime rate wouldnt be so high and our prisons wouldnt be so full and we wouldnt have to think of parol ways... Bring back the death penalty and stop making the innocent pay for these people who actually dont deserve to be part of society and dont deserve any rights what so ever....

  • andy.beak - 2012-02-20 07:22

    The Schabir/Jackie defense is good for our country. We no longer need lawyers since doctors can spring you from prison. So young people will be encouraged to study medicine in order to receive kickbacks from ANC bigwigs instead of lawyers. More corrupt doctors and fewer corrupt laywers can only be good for South Africa.

      Sharon - 2012-02-20 09:27

      I marvel at Shabir's miraculous recovery, and then wonder... Did he perhaps take medication to artificially inflate his blood pressure? Surely that is a possibility?

  • march54 - 2012-02-20 08:27

    It must be noted that there is a difference between chronic illness and terminal disease. Only those with a short time to live should be granted medical parole and this must be a supervised parole with scheduled medical check ups to determine parolee's condition. Chronic conditions can be controlled within the hospital wing of correctional services.

  • tacod - 2012-02-20 09:04

    I wonder if the double standards would also apply to this amendment? One standard for the Black corrupt ex-police commissioner and his fellow black prisoners, and a totally other standard for Clive Darby Lewis and the other white prisoners. If Darby Lewis get his medical parole before he dies, he would have served the majority of his sentence anyway. Not like Selebi and Shaick that is suddenly to sick to serve their time.

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