A dubious parole

THE negative reaction that followed the news that former national commissioner Jackie Selebi received medical parole on Friday shows South Africans are sceptical of the actions by Correctional Services after the dubious parole Schabir Shaik received in 2009.

Shaik, who was found guilty of corruption in 2005 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, was sighted many times after his medical parole and did not appear like someone at death's door or incapacitated by a debilitating disease. This has sent out a message to thepublic that crime pays when you know people at the top.

Selebi, whose healthdeteriorated rapidly after he collapsed at his Pretoria home while listening to the verdict of his appeal judgment last December, is said to suffer from diabetes and seriouskidney problems.

After Shaik, it was more incumbent on CorrectionalServices to convince the public that Selebi indeed deserves his medical parole.

If there is a lack oftransparency that goes into the processes of medical paroles, the precedent set by Shaik will remain the ghost that will haunt Correctional Services.

It will make the public cynical about what criteria are used to release some convicts on parole over others?

We are not saying that Selebi did not deserve the parole.

We are saying that it is hard to defend his constitutional right to receive medical parole with the information that has been given and that it is equally hard to believe that his status as a former policecommissioner did not influence the parole board's decision.