AFTER spending only 48 hours in Westville Prison’s hospital, convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik was back at home last night, sleeping in his own bed.
Following a hasty two-day investigation into allegations that Shaik slapped a fellow worshipper in the parking ground of the Masjid al Hilal mosque, in Overport, Durban, the Department of Correctional Services released him because “he had not violated any [of his] parole conditions”.
KwaZulu-Natal Correctional Services spokesman Hlaziya Mtolo said yesterday that investigators could not find any proof that Shaik had violated his parole conditions and therefore had no reason to detain him.
“We had nothing [on which] to really hold him any further,” said Mtolo.
A white double-cab bakkie with tinted windows drove into Shaik’s plush Morningside property shortly after 6pm yesterday, after which two hefty bodyguards took up positions at the main entrance.
On Monday morning, two Correctional Services officials surprised Shaik when they arrived at his home to arrest him. At the time, Minister of Correctional Services Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said he would be held for 72 hours pending investigations into allegations that he had slapped and punched Mohamed Ismail in the mosque’s parking ground on Friday.
Shaik’s arrest followed a front-page report in the Sunday Times that detailed how a fight broke out after Shaik parked his Jeep in such a way that Ismail could not move his car.
Ismail had to leave the mosque urgently to be at his daughter’s hospital bedside. She suffers from a potentially fatal kidney disease.
Friday’s alleged assault was the second involving Shaik in less than three weeks. A criminal case is under police investigation following a complaint by journalist Amanda Khoza that Shaik slapped and choked her on the Papwa Sewgolum golf course.
Khoza laid charges against Shaik but Ismail decided not to do so.
During a press conference at the prison yesterday, Correctional Services officials said they had been unable to trace Ismail to interview him about the alleged altercation – but last night Mtolo gave a different version.
“The person [who was] allegedly assaulted did not co-operate with the investigators,” he said.
Asked whether officials contacted Ismail and spoke to him, Mtolo said: “I do not want to get into that.”
On Tuesday, Correctional Services officers visited the Sunday Times’ Durban offices asking for Ismail’s contact details, but he had asked that they be kept confidential.
On Monday, Mapisa-Nqakula’s spokesman, Sonwabo Mbananga, said the department had “changed its stance” on Shaik because action had to be taken following the two assault allegations.
Mtolo said the investigation was exclusively into the alleged attack on Ismail and the alleged attack on Khoza was not pursued.
Investigations are still under way into the alleged assault on Khoza and a complaint has been filed by her with the Department of Correctional Services.
But Mtolo said “[Khoza’s complaint] had not been brought to our attention by the police”.
James Selfe, a DA MP and the party’s spokesman on prisons, said Correctional Services’ claim that it had not been told of the alleged assault on Khoza was “quite frankly not true”.
He said he had written to Mapisa-Nqakula, who replied that the matter was receiving attention.
“Shaik’s release was inevitable given the fact that nobody was prepared to testify,” he said.
Lawyer and parole expert Julian Knight said it is “normally” made a condition of a criminal’s parole that they not commit a crimes or be charged with an offence.
“If they are charged, they are immediately taken back to prison and, pending the outcome of the investigation, are either released or reincarcerated,” he said.
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said his party believed the matter was “between Shaik and the parole board”. He said suggestions that there had been political interference in Shaik’s case were “quite ridiculous”. – Additional reporting by Nicki Güles