Selebi spotted shopping sparks renewed medical parole debate

Kyla Herrmannsen

Jackie Selebi, convicted criminal and former police chief, was spotted yesterday out and about shopping for Sunday newspapers in Pretoria. Selebi, sentenced to 15 years in prison on 3 August 2010 was released in 2012 on medical parole.

The Medical Parole Board ruled in July 2012 that irreversible kidney failure, high blood pressure and diabetes were grounds for Selebi to be released on medical parole.

Yesterday’s spotting of Selebi looking healthier has re-ignited the public debate on medical parole. The Department of Correctional Services have said that Selebi has not violated his parole conditions through shopping and that they are only mandated to get involved in instances in which a parolee has violated their parole conditions.

According to DCS, medical parole is “a mechanism that allows for an offender to be placed into the community on parole on medical grounds irrespective of the portion of the sentence that has been served. It is a humanitarian gesture that is intended for offenders who are terminally ill with a low risk of reoffending”.

Offenders who are released on medical parole are monitored by Community Corrections officials of the Department of Correctional Services.

The new Correctional Matters Amendment Act, passed in 2012, now requires doctors to motivate as to why certain offenders should qualify for medical parole.

Clive Derby-Lewis, said to be suffering from cancer and gangrene was controversially denied medical parole in both 2011 and 2013. Ruth Hopkins, a senior journalist for the Wits Justice Project, reported on Bobby Lepping in an article featured in the Business Day. Lepping who had tuberculosis was denied medical parole but upon being acquitted, was admitted to hospital and died shortly thereafter. The article can be read here.

This table illustrates how many inmates applied for medical parole in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and how many of their applications were either granted or denied:


About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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