Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shaik to Remain on Parole

Shaik to remain on parole

March 17 2011 

After two days in prison, fraudster Schabir Shaik was back in the comfort of his own bed last night.
He was released by the Correctional Services Department after it said it could not find any evidence to prove he had violated his parole conditions.
This followed an investigation by the department into Shaik’s alleged assault of Mohammed Ismail at the Masjid Al-Hilal mosque in Overport after prayers last Friday.
On Wednesday, Durban criminal lawyer Carl van der Merwe described how he had spent two full days with Shaik at a hearing of the investigation committee on Tuesday and then all day yesterday, waiting for the outcome.
“I can tell you that his blood pressure was sky-high. He needed medication. He was in the hospital section, but he was still in a cell. The only difference is that there were nurses available to give him treatment,” he said.
The committee, comprising three senior correctional services officers, held a full-blown investigation and considered statements.
Van der Merwe was told at 6.05pm that a release order had been granted.
“You don’t get reasons, but I believe they found there was no justification (for cancelling his parole) at this stage. The evidence was just not there,” he said.
However, Van der Merwe said the parole panel did not have the final say.
“There are grounds for review and there are legal remedies.”
He said Shaik was “obviously very relieved” when he heard the news of his release.
Shaik travelled from prison in a white bakkie with tinted windows. Security staff were waiting at his Morningside, Durban, home and as soon as the bakkie entered the property they drove into the driveway, blocking it.
At a briefing at Westville prison, correctional services regional commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele said Shaik was sent to prison given the fact that the Ismail assault allegation came a few days after the department had concluded its investigation into his alleged assault of Sunday Tribune journalist Amanda Khoza.
Khoza charged Shaik arising from her attempts to investigate whether he was breaking his parole conditions by playing golf on a Saturday two weeks ago.
Shaik told The Mercury on Sunday that reports that he had assaulted a fellow worshipper were half-truths and, on Monday, the Daily News reported that three witnesses would back Shaik’s version of events.
On Wednesday, Nxele said they had concluded investigations into Khoza’s case and the evidence “could not assert whether the assault did or did not happen”.
However, the police investigation was ongoing. Its outcome and a decision on whether Shaik would be prosecuted were awaited before any further steps could be taken.
Nxele said Ismail had not opened a case with the police and the department’s investigators had made several unsuccessful attempts to contact him.
He said the Sunday Times and the hospital where Ismail was visiting his daughter were visited, but a written response was received that Ismail was unwilling to co-operate with the investigation.
“No other witnesses or evidence could be found to confirm the alleged assault which, if confirmed, would have represented a violation of the conditions of parole by Mr Shaik … For this reason we have decided to reinstate Mr Shaik’s parole. Since the current investigation did not find him guilty of violation, no changes to his parole conditions were recommended,” he said.
Nxele said Shaik’s arrest, “for purposes of investigation”, was not harsh. “We must be able to assure the public that we will not have a parolee who is alleged to be beating people every day,” he said.
Mike Ramagoba, adviser to Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said Shaik was not a free man, being in the correctional services system.
It would have been “very irresponsible” of the department not to act when presented with continuous complaints about Shaik.
Under his current parole conditions, Shaik has two hours of free time daily from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays he is allowed to attend prayers at a mosque from 11am to just after 2pm, and he has six hours’ free time, from 12pm to 6pm, on Saturdays and Sundays.
Ramagoba said 60 percent of people released on medical parole remained alive for some time and some recovered from their illnesses. New guidelines for medical parole were being reviewed by the government.
Medical parolees who recovered their health were not returned to prison because release on such grounds was not conditional on the prisoner dying, said Ramagoba. 


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