Petrus Willem Johannes Durandt, the jailed cold-blooded murderer of a Krugersdorp farmworker, comes across as someone who wants special treatment in prison, a judge has been told.
On Friday, the South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, heard Durandt’s application aimed at compelling the Department of Correctional Services to allow him to possess a laptop, a printer and speakers in his cell.
Durandt is a former police officer who owned a security company serving farms in the West Rand when he pulled a trigger against tractor driver Aaron Mutavhatsindi’s head on January 6, 2018.
The late Judge Ramarumo Monama found Durandt guilty of murder in 2020 following a marathon trial and sentenced him to 20 years behind bars.
He shot Mutavhatsindi in the head in Matshelapata, an informal community near Krugersdorp, during a high-speed chase.
Mutavhatsindi was chased as he drove his work tractor to his shack. He had taken the tractor without permission from his employers at Bartlett’s eggs farm.
Photos of the dead Mutavhatsindi slouched in the driver’s seat of a blue tractor started circulating on social media hours after his fatal shooting on January 6, 2018.
Enraged members of the public viewed Durandt’s action as another racist attack.
Durandt denied during his trial that he was racist, saying proof of this was that he attended a church with an African pastor.
On Friday, the self-representing Durandt told the court he dragged the Correctional Services Department to court because it trampled on his right to access education.
“The relief I seek is to have my own personal laptop in my single cell, as well as a printer and speakers due to hearing problems,” he said.
Durandt said the department planned to move him to a prison with a computer hub instead of allowing him to get his own laptop.
He rejected this as a solution. “I need to point out that we have Covid-19. If a person moves away from that computer, it cannot be sanitised properly so that the viruses do not spread.”
Advocate Icho Kealotswe-Matlou told the court that Durandt appeared to be yearning for special treatment in prison.
“If the applicant wants special treatment, he should give the court the reasons why he should be given that special treatment,” she said.
“The applicant has not stated to the court why he deserves special treatment (compared with) other inmates who need to study and are being transferred to facilities that have a hub.”
Kealotswe-Matlou insisted that the department was merely implementing its policy that barred laptops in cells.
Other prisoners allowed to possess laptops in cells got permission and court orders before the implementation of the policy, she said.
Moving Durandt to a facility with a computer hub was the best solution in this matter, Kealotswe-Matlou said.
“The respondents are actually promoting his right to education and saying, ‘we don’t have a hub where you are. The policy says we cannot give you this laptop, but we’ll move you’,” she submitted.
Judgment was reserved.