Balfour calls specialist to give second opinion on hospital stay

Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour, right, has ordered a medical specialist to ascertain whether convicted businessman Schabir Shaik's stay at a Durban hospital was absolutely necessary.

Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour, right, has ordered a medical specialist to ascertain whether convicted businessman Schabir Shaik's stay at a Durban hospital was absolutely necessary.

The Daily News quoted spokesman Luphumzo Kebeni as saying that the medical examination would be conducted to obtain a "second opinion" on the state of Shaik's health.

Media speculated last month that Shaik, left, had spent more than R500000 on his stay at Durban's St Augustine's Hospital.

Shaik was convicted in July 2005 on two counts of corruption and one count of fraud by Justice Hilary Squires in the Durban high court.

The supreme court of appeal last year upheld his judgment and Shaik reported to Durban's Westville Prison on November 9.

He was transferred to Empangeni's Qalakabusha Prison on the same day and on November 24 he was admitted to St Augustine's Hospital's renal transplant unit in Durban. Speculation has been rife that Shaik has received preferential treatment.

At the end of last month Judge Nathan Erasmus, the head of the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons, said he had not received any official complaints of preferential treatment.

On January 22, he denied speculation that he had launched a fresh investigation into Shaik's hospital stay.

But he said he was waiting for medical reports from Shaik's doctors.

Shaik apparently suffers from an unstable blood pressure and hypertension. His family said he suffered a mild stroke shortly after he was admitted to St Augustine's.

The outcome of those reports is not known and it was not clear what had prompted Balfour to order the department to send its own medical specialist to examine Shaik.

Kebeni could not be reached for further clarification. - Sapa

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