'Selebi out of jail for good'

Deputy Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi said Selebi will remain free even if he recovers.

Former top cop Jackie Selebi. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Convicted fraudster and former police commissioner Jackie Selebi will remain a free man even if he gets better.

On Friday, Correctional Services Minister S'bu Ndebele announced that the former top cop would be granted parole.

The minister said it was a medical decision and Selebi was not receiving preferential treatment.

Deputy Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi said Selebi will remain free even if he recovers.

"He does not have to be dying to be released. So if for some reason Selebi gets better, we don't expect him to come back as long as he observes the conditions of his parole."

According to Medical Parole Board chairperson Dr Victor Ramathesele, Selebi's wife Anne approached the panel requesting his release.

The board established that the 62-year-old suffers from "end-stage renal disease as a complication of diabetes and many other conditions."

Selebi had served just 229 days of his 15-year sentence.

He will remain at Pretoria's Steve Biko Academic Hospital for now.

MIXED REACTION

Selebi's lawyer Wynanda Coetzee said the parole decision was unexpected.

"I heard rumours via the press on Thursday. We are very happy and grateful."

Forensic investigator Paul O'Sullivan, who helped convict the controversial cop, said he felt indifferent.

"If the authorities have decided to release Selebi, it is not my job to argue with that. My work was done when he was convicted. He is no longer the chief of police so justice has been served."

Meanwhile, the Freedom Front Plus said granting Selebi medical parole is just another example of preferential treatment.

The party's Pieter Groenewald said this undermines the criminal justice system.

"This is the third case of this nature, if we consider the Schabir Shaik and Tony Yengeni examples. Special treatment has been given high-profile ANC officials."