A former prison warder who is accused of masterminding the murder of a magistrate in his driveway in Bronkhorstpruit has taken prison authorities to court because he does not want to be kept in a single cell.
Judge Elizabeth Kubushi this week granted an urgent order in the High Court in Pretoria to former Baviaanspoort prison warder Thomo Ngoato, 42, setting aside a decision by the head of the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria to place him in a single cell.
She referred the matter back for a reassessment of his classification.
A police provincial task team in January arrested Ngoato and two other men for the alleged murder of Cullinan magistrate Victor Mabunda, 50, who was ambushed in his driveway and shot four times.
At the time of the murder, the magistrate was about to deliver judgment against Ngoato, who was on trial for allegedly selling dagga to inmates at the Baviaanspoort prison.
He was arrested after police found dagga in his car when they searched it at the entrance of the prison. Ngoato, a fellow warder at the prison Paulos Fourie and a former inmate, Thato Maringa, are due to appear in court again in June on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Ngoato maintained in court papers his classification as a high-risk detainee and the decision to segregate him from other prisoners was arbitrary, capricious and procedurally unfair.
He also argued that he should not have been placed in a single cell in the circumstances of his case.
The head of the prison said the decision to place Ngoato in a separate cell was because he was regarded as a high-risk prisoner.
Kubushi ruled in Ngoato’s favour, saying the head of the prison had not exercised his power rationally, lawfully or procedurally fairly.
She said Ngoato was wrongly rated as a member of a gang because he had tattoos on his body.