Media statement by Minister, Mr. Sibusiso Ndebele, MP release on medical grounds
20 Jul 2012A very good morning to you all, and thank you for joining us at this media briefing.
All offenders and remand detainees have a right to adequate health care services, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
In terms of the Correctional Services Act, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) must provide primary health care services and refer patients to external health care facilities for secondary and tertiary levels of health care.
A number of offenders and remand detainees suffer from various terminal illnesses, with poor prognosis which are progressive and non-reversible. Patients with terminal illnesses are provided with palliative care, which provides pain relief and other measures designed to make the end stages of terminal illness as comfortable as possible.
DCS has limited capacity to provide palliative care to this category of offenders, and remand detainees, and would facilitate the provisioning of palliative care in collaboration with external service providers, whilst processing the release on medical grounds.
Based on previous legislation, policy and procedures regarding placement on medical grounds, there was lack of common understanding, and inconsistent implementation, of policy and procedures. Therefore, a need was identified to review legislation, and develop new policy and procedures, in order to provide a framework within which all releases on medical parole will be managed and, the implementation thereof, standardised.
The Correctional Services Act (Act No.111 of 1998) was reviewed, and the Correctional Matters Amendment Act (Act No.5 of 2011) was approved in May 2011. Section 79 (1) (a) of the latter Act makes provision that any sentenced offender may be considered for placement on medical parole if such offender is suffering from a terminal illness or condition, or if such offender is rendered physically incapacitated as a result of an injury, disease or illness so as to severely limit daily activity or inmates self-care.
The Act also makes provision for the Minister to establish a Medical Parole Advisory Board, which currently consists of 11 medical practitioners registered as such under the Health Professions Act (Act No.56 of 1974), in order to provide an independent medical report to the National Commissioner, Correctional Supervision and Parole Board or the Minister as the case may be.
Section 29(A) and (B) of the Amendment of the Correctional Services Regulations 2004 makes provision for the medical parole processes, and stipulates the medical conditions which the Board must consider before such recommendation could be made. The Act allows for any legal applicant to complete the prescribed medical application form for the terminally ill offender. The applicant could be the offender, nurse, own medical practitioner, spouse, legal guardian or legal representatives.
The application form must also be completed by the Medical Practitioner treating the offender, and be forwarded to the Medical Parole Advisory Board together with all specialist and medical investigation reports.
The Medical Parole Advisory Board will sit and review all submitted documents, and take a decision whether to recommend, or not recommend, release on medical grounds. In exceptional circumstances, the applicant may be visited, and examined, by a member of the Medical Parole Board.
In terms of the above, we have taken note that a fully constituted meeting of the Medical Parole Advisory Board was convened in Pretoria on 20 June 2012 where twelve applications were reviewed: The outcome of the meeting was as follows:
- Three offenders died whilst documentation was still being processed,
- Three offenders were not recommended for medical parole, and
- Six offenders were recommended for medical parole. Of these, two offenders were respectively released on the 9th and 12th of July 2012.
Mr. Jackie Selebi will be released today, and another offender is expected to be released next week.
These offenders, who have applied for medical parole, were recommended to be released on medical parole due to the fact that their conditions met the criteria as stipulated in the Act and the Regulations. These include that they all suffered from a medical condition which is terminal, chronic, progressive and has deteriorated permanently or reached an irreversible state.
Cell: 082 464 4696
Issued by: Department of Correctional Services
20 Jul 2012
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