Du Plooy v. Minister of Correctional Services, et al.

[2004] 3 All SA 613 (T)
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The Applicant, a prisoner, was suffering from chronic myeloid leukemia, a terminal illness. He had no prospects of recovery and was on the verge of dying in prison. He sought the review and setting aside of Respondents’ refusal to release him on medical parole and requested his immediate release. He also requested an order allowing him to undergo necessary and prescribed medical treatment.

The court acknowledged that, as a general rule, prisoners may not escape punishment because of ill health. However, it considered the fact that the Applicant was critically ill and dying. It further noted that prison was not conducive for his deteriorating health. The court held that the refusal to place the Applicant on medical parole constituted an infringement of section 10 of the Constitution, which provides that everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have his or her dignity respected and protected. The court found that the following rights were also infringed: freedom and security of the person; access to health care services; prisoners’ right to conditions of detention that are consistent with human dignity; and the right to just administrative action.

The Respondent’s administrative decision was thus set aside and the court ordered the Applicant’s immediate release on medical parole, subject to certain conditions.