Today, 13 June 2018, the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services met to consider a request by the Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance to remove the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, after months of delay. This follows several formal requests to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to expedite these proceedings.
The DA has now finally had a formal opportunity to present its case for having Adv Mkhwebane removed from office. Through her conduct she has demonstrated that she is unable to act lawfully, she consistently acts without regard to procedural fairness and that her findings are patently unreasonable.
The overwhelming evidence presented against the Public Protector has compelled the committee to take action. Having heard the submissions of the Chief Whip of the DA, the Chairperson, Mathole Motshekga, has now resolved to allow Adv Mkwhebane the opportunity to reply, whereupon the Committee will decide on whether or not to hold an enquiry.
What is unfortunate, however, is that the Chairperson and the ANC refused to commit to firm deadlines for Adv Mkwhebane’s submissions. Instead, South Africans have now been left with a flimsy commitment that she will be afforded a “reasonable time” by which she will be expected to respond to the submissions against her.
This is yet another delay tactic to ostensibly protect the patently compromised Public Protector from being held to account. The DA will now ensure that Adv Mkwhebane submits her responses to the Committee as soon as reasonably possible. The DA will continue the fight to protect the integrity of this essential institution of our democracy.
The DA will write to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, to invite him to take the matter of Schabir Shaik’s parole to Court to determine whether he should return to prison to serve the rest of his term of imprisonment, or whether his parole conditions should be altered in such a way that the South African public no longer have to be fed the lie that he is still terminally ill – eight years after his release.
Early in April 2009, Mr Schabir Shaik was released on medical parole from imprisonment after serving just more than two years of a fifteen-year sentence under the Prevention of Corrupt Activities Act. Of the short time he served, much of it was in hospital. Mr Shaik had been Mr Zuma’s financial adviser, and many of the offences for which he was convicted were closely connected with Mr Zuma’s alleged role in the defence acquisition programme. Mr Zuma became the President two months after Mr Shaik was released.
At the time of his release, medical parole was considered and granted in terms of section 79 of the Correctional Services Act, which, at that time, read as follows:
“Any person serving any sentence in a prison and who, based on the written evidence of the medical practitioner treating that person, is diagnosed as being in the final phase of any terminal disease or condition may be considered for placement under correctional supervision or parole….to die a consolatory and dignified death.”
According to a reply to a DA parliamentary question, Mr Shaik is still alive and well, so much so that his parole conditions allow him to play one afternoon of sport.
He has not died “a consolatory and dignified death” eight years after his release, and frankly, he is so well that his parole conditions allow him, with permission, to travel to other provinces.
It is clear that he was never “in the final phase of any terminal disease or condition”. The medical practitioner on whose diagnosis he was released was performing community service at the time.
The Health Professions Council refused to launch an enquiry into this charade, and Mr Shaik walked free, doubtless in the expectation of a presidential pardon, for which he applied shortly thereafter, and which was quite correctly refused.
Everyone knows that his release was political expedience at its ugliest. To its credit, Parliament amended this provision in the Act after his release, making release on medical parole far more rigorous.
Yet we still sit with this situation: a person who was quite clearly released erroneously, but much more likely released fraudulently, on medical parole, who continues to make a mockery of the medical parole system.
Should the Minister fail or refuse to do this, the DA will consider its options, including, even at this stage, reviewing the rationality of the decision to grant Mr Shaik medical parole.
A reply to a DA parliamentary question details how the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, considers convicted fraudster, Mr Shabir Shaik, to still be terminally ill, a full eight years after he was first unlawfully released on parole for ‘health’ reasons.
Despite being terminally ill, Mr Shaik’s house arrest conditions have been relaxed to accommodate his needs. These include:
- Attending school functions for his son 17h00 to 19h00.
- Working hours from 08h00 to 18h30 – Monday to Friday.
- Attending sports once a week from 12h00 to 19h00.
- travel outside the Province, on application for leave of absence
It is quite astounding that a terminally ill man is able to work and attend sports, should he wish.
It is also shocking that the last time his parole was assessed was two years ago.
The reason for Mr Shaik’s release on parole 8 years ago was clearly a farce – he appears no closer to death today than he did at the time.
Those responsible for this abuse and mockery of the parole system must be tracked down and held to account.