Balfour sends fraudster 'back where he belongs'

Convicted Durban fraudster Schabir Shaik is "back where he belongs" - in prison, Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour told MPs yesterday.

Convicted Durban fraudster Schabir Shaik is "back where he belongs" - in prison, Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour told MPs yesterday.

"I have a report here ... from our doctors in KwaZulu-Natal. I read the report last night [and] I made up my mind ... by 6am this morning, Schabir Shaik is back in prison," Balfour told parliament's correctional services portfolio committee.

"I've just got the offender back where he belongs. That's my job."

Balfour said that in future no prisoner of Shaik's "calibre" would be allowed to leave a "correctional services centre" without newly appointed correctional services national commissioner Vernie Petersen approving the move.

"He has to give the go-ahead," Balfour said, pointing to Petersen.

Shaik was found guilty and sentenced by a Durban high court for fraud in 2005. He was to start his jail term last year when he suffered from hypertension and depression.

He was referred to the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban more than a month ago, after he spent two months in a prison infirmary and 83 days at St Augustine's Hospital.

Shaik's long stays in hospital since his prison term began have led to accusations that he was receiving preferential treatment.

Shaik's brother, Mo Shaik, said the rights and health of an offender could not be used as political ping-pong by political parties in parliament.

He said he had received a call from a correctional services official at 4am on Tuesday, informing him of his brother's move back to Westville Prison "at the minister's instructions".

Mo Shaik said he was "very upset" and described the timing of his brother's move back to prison as "despicable".

Meanwhile, Schabir's last bid for freedom will be heard in the constitutional court today and tomorrow. - Sapa

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