Pretoria - Yet another inmate - the second in as many months - has been found dead at Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre in the city. The body of Thabo Molepo, 27, was found hanging in the bathroom on Saturday at about 8am, Correctional Services spokesperson Mocheta Monama said. Molepo was serving 11 years for housebreaking and theft and scheduled to appear in court on a rape charge next month.
Monama said the incident was initially reported as a suicide, but forensic investigators from the SAPS were conducting a post-mortem to determine the cause of death. “Another internal investigation by the department is also under way to complement the investigation by the police,” Monama said.
However, inmates told the Pretoria News that Molepo was murdered by five people in a gang-related confrontation. They claimed he was selling drugs in the prison, and that this could have something to do with his alleged murder.
“We already know that the inmate was murdered. His death was supposed to be made to look like a suicide because there have been plenty of those in the past. His killers were sloppy because they did not clean some traces of blood from the communal cell in C-Section where he was killed.
“This is the section where inmates with further charges are being kept. There were probably numerous witnesses, but they will not come forward with information,” an inmate said on Monday. The inmate claimed that the prisoners who allegedly killed Molepo were drug addicts, and could also have robbed him before killing him and staging his death as a suicide.
“One of the guys involved was tricked to admit to the murder. He was told that his DNA was discovered on the victim’s body. He bought the story and started talking. The police will want to conclude their investigations, but we already know what happened. As inmates, we are worried for our safety more than everything and we find ourselves asking management to step up. Management needs to realise that many lives will still be lost here. The worst is still to come if the situation continues in this manner.”
The inmates blamed the incident on management and said those in charge were unable to deal with grievances and challenges that arose from time to time. Last month, the inmates also pointed fingers at management after mentally-challenged William Phetla, 45, committed suicide. His body was found hanging from a rope made from sheets found at the prison’s hospital.
The inmates claimed at the time that management was warned about Phetla being a danger to himself after he had attempted to kill himself a few days earlier. Monama said the department was not aware of the drug allegations. He said the allegations were serious and would form part of the scope of the investigation.
Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubela said that only after they had completed the investigation would they be in a position to tell if Molepo’s death was murder or suicide.
Meanwhile, another group of inmates has sent a notice of intention to file for contempt of a 2016 court order with the department. The inmates had taken the department and the Kgosi Mampuru management to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, after a warden was found to have failed to assist an inmate to acquire proof of registration when applying to study through Unisa.
The court recommended that wardens needed to be sensitised to treat inmates in a humane way that avoided unnecessary conflicts. In addition, it was ordered that wardens assisted inmates with their academic requirements. But according to the inmates, the department had not complied with the recommendations to their satisfaction.