/ 25 August 2006

Yengeni swaps jails after big lunch

Jailed African National Congress fraudster Tony Yengeni has been transferred to Malmesbury prison, the Cape Argus reported on Friday. The newspaper also said Yengeni was given a big lunch in a prison boardroom before leaving.

Quoting an unnamed warder, it said Yengeni was driven to the modern jail, about 60km north of Cape Town, only hours after being admitted to Pollsmoor on Thursday.

Malmesbury is the jail where Allan Boesak served his jail sentence for fraud. Like Yengeni, Boesak was admitted at Pollsmoor, then almost immediately whisked away to Malmesbury.

Department of Correctional Services Western Cape spokesperson Mark Solomons was not immediately available to comment on the report.

The Independent Democrats on Friday called on the department to discipline uniformed officials who toyi-toyied as Yengeni was escorted to the gates of Pollsmoor.

”To allow some of their officials to dance with a common criminal before he is taken into the cells reeks of a dangerous moral degeneration,” ID Western Cape leader JJ Januarie said in a statement.

He said South Africans’ fight for freedom would have been in vain if a criminal could be hero-worshipped by prison officials.

Yengeni, starting a jail term expected to be effectively less than eight months, was given a send-off by a number of senior members of the African National Congress, including its Western Cape chairperson James Ngculu, provincial Premier Ebrahim Rasool and Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad.

Swept on a wave of solidarity

Yengeni, who was swept to the gates of Pollsmoor prison on a wave of solidarity from party officials, suggested on Thursday that Parliament erred in its handling of his fraud case.

”Now, normally, if you break the rules of Parliament, what happens is that you are taken through a parliamentary process. There is a committee that investigates those breaches of parliamentary rules and then, in the end, Parliament comes to a certain determination.

”Those things were not done. An issue that was blatantly a Parliament issue was hijacked and criminalised,” he said.

Yengeni was addressing a crowd of supporters outside the prison’s gates, where he had to report for the first day of his sentence following the dismissal on Monday of an appeal against the sentence.


There was brief pandemonium on Thursday at the prison entrance as he was led in, as prison warders used electrically charged shields to push back throngs of supporters. Minister of Housing Lindiwe Sisulu and Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete had to be ushered through the milling crowd and excited dogs.

Yengeni, who was driven to prison in a top-of-the-range, supercharged Range Rover, would have to swap his designer clothes for standard-issue prison garb.

”We are not able to look at the merits or demerits of the case itself, but we can proudly proclaim that Tony Yengeni is one of us. Tony Yengeni is us and we are Tony Yengeni,” said ANC chief whip in Parliament Mbulelo Goniwe.

He warned that the targeting of ANC revolutionary politicians will continue, with the intention being to demonise the ruling party and weaken it. He said the only thing that can save the ANC is the sort of solidarity and unity being shown to Yengeni.

”Let us not be misled by this concerted media campaign that seeks to depict our leaders, time-tested revolutionaries, as criminals today in this country,” said Goniwe. — Sapa