/ 1 January 2002

Prison official is rotten to the core, probe hears

A senior Grootvlei warder accused of masterminding a plot to make the prison ungovernable, belonged behind bars, advocate Vas Soni, evidence leader of the Jali Commission, said on Wednesday.

Soni recommended that Mafumadi Kosana be criminally prosecuted for fraud and that he repay the Department of Correctional Services half of the salary he earned during the past three years for his second work as local councillor.

Soni called on the commission to make a ”prime example” of Kosana and to ”use the full might of criminal law to put him behind bars, which is where he ought to be”.

Kosana is accused of attending meetings of the local Mangaung council during official working hours without permission from departmental authorities.

Soni recommended that Kosana be ordered to repay R3 000 of the monthly salary of R6 000 he earned as a councillor. It was earlier testified that Kosana has served as a councillor since 1999.

Soni said Kosana regarded himself as untouchable in the department. Although his superiors knew he was irregularly attending council meetings during working hours, nobody had the courage to stand up to him.

That was because he was ”nothing but a bully” who used his ”very secure” position within the trade union Popcru and in the council.

Only the persistence of the Jali Commission investigators saw to it that he was brought to book after years of putting himself beyond the reach of the departmental authorities and the law.

He created a smokescreen for his fraudulent activities by capitalising on the unpopularity of Grootvlei prison chief Tatolo Setlai among some warders, Soni said of Kosana.

Soni also recommended that Kosana be charged departmentally with the furnishing of false statements after he lied about recusing himself from a recruitment panel interviewing relatives.

Soni said the most serious departmental charge against Kosana should be that of sabotage, after he illegally removed a warning letter written to him from his departmental file.

He should also be charged with sabotage for his intended interference in the operations of Grootvlei prison in order to make it ungovernable.

For forcing prisoner Kenneth Kunene to cut his toenails and corns, he should be charged departmentally for the illegal use of prison labour for personal purposes, Soni said.

He also recommended that Kosana be removed ”unceremoniously” from the department after a disciplinary hearing. Judge Thabani Jali on Wednesday threatened that he would see to it that Kosana was locked up in Grootvlei prison that night if he should continue his ”contemptuous” approach towards the commission while examining witnesses.

”Don’t play games with me. This is not a Popcru meeting or a disciplinary hearing at Grootvlei.

”I will lock you up in Grootvlei. I will send you to a prison outside the province.

”You have been contemptuous from the beginning,” a visibly angry Jali told Kosana. – Sapa