Vicki Letele case proves justice system is racist - Marama Fox

  • 11/11/2016
Vicki Letele case proves justice system is racist - Marama Fox

Terminally ill prisoner Vicki Letele's difficulty in getting released has been blamed on a "racist" justice system.

Serving a three-year jail sentence for mortgage fraud with just months to live, Ms Letele was released on Thursday night on compassionate grounds.

The family were ecstatic at the Parole Board's decision, after the Department of Corrections asked it to reconsider its position on Wednesday.

Ms Letele, who has terminal stomach cancer, has been told she has just weeks left to live - and Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox says the mother-of-three has been treated unfairly.

"The system is inherently racist, we've known it for a long time. In fact, people don't even like to call it 'institutionalised racism', they call it 'unconscious bias' - but what does that mean, that we were asleep when we were being racist?"

Ms Fox says Ms Letele would not have had to beg to die in peace with her family if she wasn't Māori.

"Her crime was not an aggravated crime, and she has been treated unfairly and harshly by this system."

Her brother, boxer Dave Letele, said on Thursday the Parole Board's decision was largely down to the swell of support Ms Letele had received.

"We're 100 percent grateful to the media and to the public for jumping on it. It's given Vicki a massive voice."

He shared his thanks on social media, writing: "Thank you to Amanda Gillies from Newshub for supporting my sister. You guys helped us from the start."

Ms Fox echoed Mr Letele's sentiments.

"I'm overwhelmingly happy for the family who are able to bring Vicki home, so she can see out her final days with her children in the arms of her family - as it should be."