Pardon me! I’m dying


Fraudster Schabir Shaik has been ‘fighting for his life’ for four and a half years – in between launching a business, playing golf and shopping

First he was behind bars, then deathly ill in a prison hospital. Later he was dying at home and a few months after that he was courting trouble on the golf course.

Then it was back to the prison hospital – because the man is sick, you know – and now he’s once again back home so, as was declared at the time of his first release, he can “die in peace”.

But no one is expecting to be reading obituaries of convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik (54) anytime soon, even though it has been two years since his release from Durban-Westville Prison on medical parole amid claims of terminal illness.

And it seems Shaik isn’t the exception – the department of correctional services has a pretty poor track record deciding which prisoners should go home to die.

Between 2007 and 2008 the department freed 124 prisoners due to terminal illnesses. But it says only 36 per cent of those have died. The others, like Shaik, are very much alive.

In the four and a half years Shaik has been in and out of prison “fighting for his life” 987 terminally ill prisoners have died in jail. They weren’t given the option to shuffle off this mortal coil peacefully at home.

This well-publicised saga gets South Africans’ blood boiling every time Shaik makes headlines.

He recently did another stint in a prison hospital while claims of parole violations were being investigated – but the parole board sent him home again.

It would never have happened had he been anyone other than the president’s financial adviser at the time of his arrest, Cope MP Smuts Ngonyama later remarked in parliament.

“Shaik is clearly under the impression he’s untouchable, probably for good reason. He will also violate his new parole conditions without punishment. Shaik was not terminally ill when he was released on medical parole.”

Correctional services minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula tried to do damage control. “I didn’t know there was a time limit on his dying,” she said.

Read the full article in YOU, 31 March 2011.

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