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‘Spat on in jail for troubling Zuma’

Durban - Steven Masunga, the Tanzanian arrested on charges of intimidating first lady Nompumelelo Zuma, claims he has been threatened and spat on by other inmates while awaiting his second bail hearing at the New Prison correctional facility in Pietermaritzburg.

Denied bail last month and having spent more than eight weeks behind bars, Masunga will appear in the Camperdown Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday for a second bail bid.

Steven Masunga is charged with intimidating Nompumelelo Ntuli, commonly known as MaNtuli, President Jacob Zuma's second wife. Photo: Zanele Zulu. Credit: DAILY NEWS

Earlier this week, Masunga called the Sunday Tribune and threatened to commit suicide.

“I want to end this whole thing because I don’t think I will get a fair trial,” he said. “I have written a letter explaining everything.”

Masunga said he had had a tough time in prison. “People asked why I was causing problems for the president. I fear for my life because anything can happen to me.”

After promising on Thursday to supply a copy of the suicide letter, and being advised against the move, Masunga later said the letter had been confiscated on Friday.

Masunga was arrested on January 24, two days after claiming in an interview with the Sunday Tribune that he was a friend of MaNtuli’s and had information about her that she did not want made public.

Masunga said the secrets centred on MaNtuli’s “close friendship” with bodyguard Phinda Thomo, who reportedly shot himself in the bath of his Soweto house in 2009.

Masunga sent an e-mail to newspapers last month claiming Thomo was murdered.

In a new twist, Masunga said this week he had since severed ties with his legal aid attorney Lekoko Lekoa, whom he accused of failing to visit him in prison or make good on his promises.

Masunga said he would represent himself in court. Lekoko could not be reached for comment, but said at the first bail application his client had instructed him to appeal and he would lay a counter-charge of intimidation against MaNtuli.

Correctional Services spokesman Manelisi Wolela could not be reached for comment.

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