Lamola expected to respond to KZN prison boss’s letter over prolonged suspension
Durban - Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, is expected to respond to a lawyer's letter issued on behalf of KwaZulu-Natal prison boss, Mnikelwa Nxele, in which he asks the minister to intervene in a dispute between Nxele and national prison commissioner, Arthur Fraser.
In an interview with IOL earlier this week, Nxele urged the minister to look into the matter which has been ongoing since January last year.
On Monday, Nxele tried to enter his Pietermaritzburg offices but was barred from doing so by at least 25 heavily armed guards. He was issued, yet again, with a letter of suspension.
In a heated exchange between Nxele and the guards, he demanded to know why he should take instructions from the guards, who were juniors.
"They have no jurisdiction here. They were brought in from Mpumalanga," he said.
After a call to his lawyer, Nxele opted to leave the premises.
Nxele claimed that a target was placed on his back after he outed a colleague who made irregular claims for subsistence and travel between 2009 and 2010. He said the employee was disciplined and later dismissed.
"However, when Fraser took the position of national commissioner, he was influenced to take the employee back. It wasn't long before I was placed on suspension," he said.
Nxele said despite taking up the matter with the court and an arbitrator, and both entities finding no cause for his suspension, he has yet to meet with Fraser to discuss the real reason behind the suspension.
Nxele said he believed that this was a misuse of power that set a dangerous precedent and called for Lamola to intervene.
In a letter addressed to the minister, Nxele through his legal representative Garlicke & Bousfield, wrote: "The reason for this letter is to seek the Honourable Minister's urgent intervention regarding the National Commissioner's blatant violation of the rule of law by taking the law into his own hands instead of utilising the lawful dispute resolution mechanisms, including approaching the country’s courts of law to seek redress. Honourable Minister, we are appealing to you for your urgent intervention.
“If I have done something wrong, I should be given an opportunity to defend myself, he said.
Nxele was implicated by former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi at the Zondo Commission for allegedly taking monthly bribes of about R57 000 from the company, allegedly, for his influence.
He claimed that other people on the panel were not suspended and that his suspension was not related to the allegations.
Lamola’s spokesperson, Chrispin Phiri, confirmed that the minister would establish the facts on the matter.
"The minister will establish the facts in question and respond to the correspondence," Phiri said.