/ 30 July 2004

‘Corrupt’ prison boss acquitted

Former Grootvlei prison director Tatolo Setlai has been acquitted of corruption charges in the Bloemfontein Regional Court.

Setlai had been charged with acting ”’grossly negligently” in allowing a prisoner and others at Grootvlei prison to produce a video ”contrary to the policies and directives of the DCS [Department of Correctional Services]”.

This video showed footage of wardens in Grootvlei prison drinking brandy with prisoners, procuring sex with minors for prisoners and smuggling guns to prisoners.

Setlai was charged with various other offences, ranging from not paying for ”private telephone calls made from your official telephone, contrary to DCS policy” to bribing prisoners to drop charges against other prisoners.

The Volksblad newspaper reported on Tuesday that a witness against Setlai testified that he was threatened with two years’ imprisonment if he did not testify according to the wishes of the state.

Setlai has spent almost two years on suspension, fighting the allegations made against him. He has funded his own defence. Setlai is now awaiting the directions of the Department of Correctional Services regarding the resumption of his duties.

The department has been reported as trying to clean up corruption in prisons — more specifically, by introducing whistle-blowing policies.

Minister of Correctional Services Ncgonde Balfour has been reported as saying that a policy on whistle-blowing is being drawn up to protect prison officials and others who expose corruption in jails.

Such a policy would protect whistle-blowers from occupational detriment if they report wrongdoing to their employers. — I-Net Bridge