/ 1 January 2002

Dirty dealings at the Grootvlei prison

A top official at the Grootvlei Prison boasted to a prisoner that he was masterminding a plot to take charge of the facility, the Jali Commission probing irregularities at the institution heard on Wednesday.

Kenneth Kunene, an inmate, testified before the commission that Mufamadi Kosana boasted to him about his plans to oust Tatolo Setlai from his post as prison boss by mobilising union members against him.

Kunene, ranked an assistant director in the Correctional Services, was in charge of the prison’s institutional committee and was also a senior member of a major union organised at the prison.

He also served on the Mangaung city council as an elected representative.

According to Kunene, Kosana told him that after taking over Setlai’s job he also aimed to remove Langa Bikane and become Grootvlei area manager.

He allegedly paid a woman to solicit Setlai’s sexual attention.

The woman was then supposed to lay a complaint of rape against him but eventually lost interest because Setlai ”was slow to react,” Kunene testified.

Kosana also boasted to Kunene that he was responsible for ousting the previous area manager, Grace Molatedi.

She was transferred after a Police and Prison Civil Rights Union sit-in at her office to demand her removal.

Kunene also told the commission on Wednesday he suspected that Kosana had instructed warders to commit corrupt acts as part of a plan to discredit Setlai.

The prisoner compared Kosana’s reputed power hunger with that of the late Unita leader, Jonas Savimbi.

He said Kosana ”had the heart but not luckily not the brains to take over (President Thabo) Mbeki’s government.”

Kunene also testified that he wrote an assignment Kosana had to hand in as part of his tertiary study.

During cross examination Kosana told the commission that he was studying a B.Proc degree at the University of the Free State.

Earlier in the day Kosana had asked commission investigator Vas Soni that evidence about complaints against Setlai also be heard.

Soni said he was in possession of a written statement by Kosana regarding complaints against Setlai and that it would be examined during Kosana’s testimony over the next two days. – Sapa