Dark cloud over system

So the Health Professionals Council of South Africa has cleared the doctors who examined and recommended that convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik be released on medical parole.

So the Health Professionals Council of South Africa has cleared the doctors who examined and recommended that convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik be released on medical parole.

While this development effectively clears the doctors of the suspicion of being part of hanky-panky in the controversial early release of Shaik, it's possibly not so in the court of public opinion where their real role in the whole saga is likely to remain a subject of conjecture for a long time.

For as long as the issue of transparency dogs Shaik's parole, the whole saga will remain shrouded in suspicion and controversy - not least the protagonists who played some role in the process.

However much Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour digs in his heels, as he did again this week by resisting calls for a review of the matter, this will do little to ease the mounting pressure on him to be more candid about the rationale behind Shaik's release.

Not surprisingly, there have been disclosures that more deserving prisoners had been overlooked, even though their cases had arisen long before Shaik's application.

Until the cloud over this matter is lifted, suspicions will remain that the country's parole system is open to manipulation, especially when the intended beneficiaries come from the elite.

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