FORMER police commissioner Jackie Selebi began serving his 15-year sentence for corruption when he was admitted to the Pretoria Central Prison yesterday afternoon, the Department of Correctional Services confirmed last night.

Selebi's appeal against his conviction was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday morning, after which he had 48 hours to report to prison to begin serving his sentence.

However, he collapsed after hearing that his appeal had failed and he was taken to a Pretoria hospital on Friday, and was thus unable to present himself to the Department of Correctional Services on time.

Yesterday, South Gauteng High Court Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo issued a warrant of committal because Selebi had not presented himself to the department. A police official with the committal warrant presented Selebi to the Pretoria Central Prison yesterday afternoon after he arrived there in an ambulance.

A spokeswoman for the department, Promise Khumalo, confirmed Selebi's admission to the prison's infirmary unit.

She said Selebi was taken through normal administrative processes and booked into the prison.

The assessment also analysed his personal and medical wellbeing. "He is our responsibility now," Ms Khumalo said.

"We cannot say when he will be removed from the infirmary unit. It will depend on his condition.

"Once he is feeling better, he will be allocated a cell just like everybody else," she said.

In August last year, the South Gauteng High Court imposed a 15- year jail term on Selebi, the most senior police official yet to be convicted of corruption.

The conviction related to Selebi receiving just more than R160000 in cash from Glenn Agliotti, a convicted drug dealer, between 2004 and 2006.

The court found that in return Agliotti had received benefits from Selebi, including access to confidential police and intelligence reports.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said it was in the public interest that the South African people were told what illness Selebi was suffering from, to avoid accusations that he received preferential treatment because of his political connections. "This incident will be the first test for the amended requirements for granting medical parole, and the DA will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure South Africans are spared another case of The Shaik Escape," the party's spokesman on correctional services, James Selfe, said yesterday.

mabuzae@bdfm.co.za