A year has passed since Apla militant and former political prisoner Kenny Motsamai walked out of Boksburg Prison as a free man after spending 27 years behind bars. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/ANA
Johannesburg - Former political prisoner Kenny Motsamai reckons life was better behind bars as he continues to endure physical and emotional agony.

The former PAC combatant on Sunday celebrated his first anniversary since his release from Boksburg Prison after spending almost 28 years behind bars for killing a white traffic officer in Rustenburg in 1989. The operation is believed to have been sanctioned by PAC’s military wing Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla). Motsamai was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder and served his time at three prisons.

He served the first four years under the apartheid government and a further 23 years and 11 months under the democratic government of the ANC. Prior to his release on parole on January 11 last year, Motsamai was granted a day parole with strict conditions to be back by 4pm, and was fitted with a monitoring device on his left ankle.

The physical effects of the device continue to haunt him.


“My release has caused me so much sickness. I now live on painkillers and heat rubs to reduce the pain on my left ankle,” said Motsamai, speaking from his family home in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni.

He claimed the device, which was manufactured in Tel Aviv for jailed terrorists, was fitted too tight and in November 2016 he asked the Department of Correctional Services authorities to move it to the other leg.

“I’m not sure if Michael Masutha (the minister) was captured because he refused to have the device removed,” he said.

PAC Struggle hero Kenny Motsamai
PAC struggle hero Kenny Motsamai leaves Boksburg Correctional Service Centre on day six of his day parole. He has since been released from jail. Picture: Itumeleng English

“I started feeling pain and my entire foot would swell and become itchy. It was removed only later after it broke but the damage to my leg had already been done. I believe that they laced it with poison because none of the inmates experienced the pain I endured. I used to be fit before they put that thing on me.” He now wraps his ankle in a bandage.

Motsamai, 55, will consider suing the state only after his leg is assessed by a specialist.


He showed The Star a doctor’s note which he was given at Pretoria’s 1 Military Hospital this week. The doctor said Motsamai had lost sensation on his foot and instructed further assessment later this month.

Prior to his release, Motsamai, his family and the PAC challenged the department to release him along with other PAC prisoners in South African jails.

He said he still feels betrayed.

“When I eventually got parole I was treated like a hero. Politicians visited me and the Department of Human Settlements built me a house in Daveyton. It turned out to be more like a toilet. The Department of Military Veterans built me another one in Golden Gardens. It’s a four-roomed house but I can’t live in it because it does not have electricity and its roof leaks,” said the unemployed Motsamai, who lives in a back room with his wife Mantombi Magagula. He survives on the R1 200 Social Relief of Distress grants from the military. The grant is meant to bring temporary relief to veterans who do not earn enough to buy nutritious food. His application for its special pension fund was revoked.

Controversial Incredible Happenings Ministries leader Pastor Paseka “Mboro” Motsoeneng became a close friend following Motsamai's release. A photo of the two posing in Mboro’s BMWi8 car circulated on social media.

The site of a now-defunct carwash that Pastor Paseka 'Mboro' Motsoeneng funded on behalf of political prisoner Kenny Motsamai in Katlehong. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency/ANA

Mboro donated R40 000 for Motsamai to start a car wash business in Shongweni Section in Katlehong. The business was doing well and Motsamai thought he had a good foundation on which to rebuild his life again.

“I had 12 people working for me. I was making R1 700 a day. But it all went south when my water pressure pump was stolen. The business lasted for four months. I was destroyed,” said Motsamai.

He has no hopes of picking up the pieces and relaunching the business again as he does not have the funds to buy machinery. His eyes are set on working for the government but that too seems impossible for now.

“I’m happy to be back with my family but I feel betrayed and condemned by our government that I’ve been reduced to a beggar. All I want is to be integrated into the SA National Defence Force so that I can work and regain my dignity. I don’t deserve this treatment. I spilled blood for this country,” said Motsamai.

He has no intention of asking for forgiveness from the family of the officer he killed.

“I’m not interested in meeting them nor intend to apologise to them. White people don’t apologise for apartheid or for putting me in jail for that long. I will never apologise for killing him. I’m a soldier and I was trained to kill white people."

Motsamai said the PAC was still relevant despite the in-fighting which has led to dwindling membership. He said only Apla combatants can unite the party because they had proved to be worth their salt for putting their lives on the line for the organisation and its cause.

“The party is still relevant because black South Africans still do not have the land. Whites took our land by robbing us using guns and bibles. We are left with no land but guns and bibles. We can use the same guns to push those that don’t want land expropriation to OR Tambo International Airport. That boy Mmusi Maimane (DA leader) can go with them,” said Motsamai.


The Star