Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
20 July 2009

Medical Miracles (III)

It has now been 142 days since Schabir Shaik was released from prison on medical parole in order to die a dignified death in terms of the appropriate legislation. Shaik, however, is still very much alive. Newspapers even published a claim that Shaik was spotted in a fancy Durban Restaurant at the end of last month. Is this a medical miracle in the making?

Just a reminder that section 79 of the Act states that:

Any person serving any sentence in a prison and who, based on the written evidence of the medical practitioner treating that person, is diagnosed as being in the final phase of any terminal disease or condition may be considered for placement under correctional supervision or on parole, by the Commissioner, Correctional Supervision and Parole Board or the court, as the case may be, to die a consolatory and dignified death.

The fact that Shaik is still alive almost five months after being released on medical parole, means that either his doctors made a terrible mistake when they diagnosed him as being in the final stages of a terminal illness, or they never really diagnosed him as being in the final stages of a terminal illness but the parole board nevertheless unlawfully ordered his release and the then Minister of Correctional Services lied to the nation about the true state of affairs. (Well, either that or divine intervention is creating a medical miracle in front of our eyes.)

I will continue to remind readers every 30 days that Shaik is still alive. I really do not want Shaik to die. I just want him to go back to prison where the law seemingly requires him to be.

Every 30 days that Shaik remains alive provides more proof that the medical parole board released Shaik unlawfully and that the government (and specifically the Minister of Correctional Services at the time) lied about his condition. If he had been terminally ill when released – as required by the Correctional Services Act – Shaik would surely have been dead by now. With the passing of every month, the scandal of his release grows bigger. We should not forget this.

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