/ 1 January 2002

Grootvlei pimp warder ‘too drunk to testify’

The Jali Commission could not hear evidence on Thursday on a Grootvlei warder caught on videotape while selling a juvenile prisoner for sex to an adult inmate because the implicated warder refused to attend the commission hearing.

After failing to turn up for the scheduled hearing on Thursday morning, suspended warder, identified only as Motai, was at last found shortly before 1pm, drinking at a shebeen, unwilling and ”not in a condition” to appear before the commission.

Warder Lolo Staat, who was sent to fetch Motai from his home, testified that when he found Motai at the shebeen at approximately 12.50pm on Thursday, Motai told him that he is not prepared to appear before the commission because he had had something to drink.

Motai asked Staat not to report this to the commission, but to tell the commission that he would attend the hearing on Friday, with a doctor’s letter. He was not in a condition to come to court, Staat testified.

Motai is one of 22 Grootvlei warders who were suspended after they were implicated in various offences in a by now notorious corruption video produced secretly by four prison inmates.

The video showed how Motai brought a juvenile prisoner to inmate Petrus Nkutoane, one of the video producers, in his cell, and was paid for it by Nkutoane. The ensuing sex scene between Nkutoane and the juvenile was also recorded.

The suspended warders still receive their monthly salaries pending the outcome of their disciplinary hearings.

Johan Massyn, representative for the department of correctional services in the Free State, told Sapa that the disciplinary hearings are set to start as soon as the Jali Commission makes its recommendations on Grootvlei and the respective offences that came to light in its investigation.

In reaction to complaints by the suspended warders that they have been suspended for longer than 30 days now, Massyn said that the department’s disciplinary code provide for the suspension period to be extended to longer than 30 days if circumstances should justify it.

Commission investigator Vas Soni on Thursday also recommended that the commission put pressure on Free State prosecuting authorities not to delay any more in the case of Grootvlei warder Sam Mohanoe, accused of repeatedly sodomising a juvenile prisoner.

Mohanoe, whose trial date is set for August 30, became the young trial-awaiting prisoner’s ”worst tormentor”, Soni said.

He recommended that Mohanoe, who is still in the service of the department and currently on bail, be charged departmentally for forcibly sodomising the young man seven times in prison and once outside of prison.

After complaints that Mohanoe is still in contact with prisoners, he was transferred from the department’s section for community corrections to the offices of the provincial commissioner, the commission was told on Thursday.

Mohanoe was earlier transferred from the Grootvlei prison to community corrections in Bloemfontein after he was arrested for sodomising the young prisoner.

Grootvlei area manager of correctional services, Langa Bikane, testified on Thursday that warders found guilty of misconduct and corruption in their disciplinary hearings, are often reinstated after their appeals are upheld by provincial commissioner Willem Damons.

”Conviction is not a problem, but one never knows what will crop up during the appeal process.” Over the past year, ”only” four Grootvlei warders found guilty of corruption were dismissed, Bikane testified.

Grootvlei prison head Tatolo Setlai also told the commission that there is no consistency in the department’s upholding or denial of appeals by dismissed warders. Sometimes warders who committed serious transgressions are reinstated, while others who were dismissed for less serious offenses, are never again seen.

Damons is expected to testify again on Friday, among others on his re-instatement of 49 Popcru warders who earlier invaded the office of former Grootvlei area manager Grace Molatedi, and chased her away. Molatedi has since been transferred. The 49 warders were all found guilty in their disciplinary hearings and dismissed, after which Damons re-instated them.

The commission is scheduled to hold its last hearing in Bloemfontein on Friday. – Sapa