Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

‘Akin to Guantanamo prison’ – Senzo Meyiwa murder accused complains about jail conditions

The murder trial resumed on Tuesday after being postponed last week due to the illness of a state witness.

One of the accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial has complained about alleged mistreatment at the prison where he is incarcerated.

Accused number three, Mthobisi Mncube is one of five men on trial in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria for the murder of Meyiwa, who was shot and killed while visiting his girlfriend, Kelly Khumalo, on 26 October 2014.

The murder trial resumed on Tuesday after being postponed last week due to the illness of a state witness.

Accused in ‘solitary confinement’

During the proceedings, Mncube’s lawyer, Advocate Charles Mnisi, informed the court that his client had been unable to bathe since last Thursday due to the absence of warm water in the prison where he has been detained.

“He has informed me that this has been since the beginning of the winter and when he brings that to the attention of the authorities at the prison, they are saying to him there is nothing they can do about it.

“[They told him] that he should know that if decides to use cold water, he will be doing it at his own risk, and if he gets flu, they will not be taking him to a hospital or a clinic,” he said.

Mnisi also informed the court that Mncube has been in “solitary confinement”, therefore, limiting him to one or two calls a month.

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“He has got no amenities like a television or radio. He is just stuck alone there and when he brings it to the attention of the authorities, they are saying him being kept in such a facility is a result of this case.”

According to the advocate, this made it difficult to consult with his client.

“In terms of me receiving instruction from him, it is difficult because it’s like he is in no man’s land being kept alone. I think that is akin to Guantanamo prison.

“He says to me that if this situation were to continue like this, he will find it very difficult to come to court and specifically to give me instructions for his defence.”

Watch the trial below:

Mnisi further indicated that Mncube sustained an injury to his right arm.

“I think it was a fractured bone. So that also exacerbated the issue of him having to use water. He said to me that I should implore this court to pardon him tomorrow [Wednesday] because he needs to go to the clinic.

“I think he has got an appointment if the court were to delay its starting time.”

He added that the accused has been detained in his “cubicle” for “almost four years”.

“He tells me that people who get kept in that facility are people who commit offences whilst they have actually been incarnated and convicted… people who assault other prisoners,” said the advocate.

Accused’s concerns to be investigated

State prosecutor George Baloyi responded by stating that Mncube’s concerns are being brought to their attention for the first time.

Baloyi further mentioned that the state will instruct the investigating team to address the issue with the prison’s head.

“Regarding the lack of warm water, it is something that we are not aware of.

“As far as the conditions of his detention are concerned, that has been brought to the attention of the court before, but the fact that he is being held in a cubicle is something new that we will also have investigated,” the prosecutor said.

Advocate Zandile Mshololo highlighted that accused number five, Fisokuhle Ntuli, was facing the same difficulties due to the lack of access to warm water.

The trial continues with the evidence of Vodacom forensic supervisor, Pinky Vythilingam, on Wednesday.

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