EFF’s Kenny Motsamai was among the 54 permanent delegates to the National Council of Provinces sworn in by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. PIcture: Phando Jikelo African News Agency
Former political prisoner Kenny Motsamai has expressed his gratitude to the EFF after he was sworn in as a member of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Thursday.

“Today, I am very, very happy because the EFF kept their promises, they said they were going to take me to the national Parliament and I am in the NCOP representing Gauteng. I’m very happy,” Motsamai told The Star.

The former freedom fighter, who served 27 years and 11 months in jail, was paroled in 2017 after being sentenced to life for the 1989 murder of a white traffic officer in Rustenburg during an Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla) operation.

“I was fighting for the liberation of African people. I was fighting for the return of land to the African people and I’m happy for what the EFF has done.

“I went to jail because of the land issue, and the only organisation that wants to fight for the land of the African people is the EFF,” he said.

Before administering the oath to the permanent delegates, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said one of the delegates was on parole.

He was referring to Motsamai.

Justice Mogoeng said the Constitution stipulated that people who served a term of more than 12 months’ imprisonment were disqualified from holding high public office for five years from the completion of their sentence.

The chief justice said that the provision was not applicable when the new Constitution took effect.

“(According to) information at my disposal, the particular delegate was convicted in 1989 and the Constitution took effect in 1996.

“So this section seems not to extend or to exclude that delegate,” Mogoeng said.

Justice Mogoeng also said there should be a good reason why the drafters of the Constitution decided to make the provision applicable only after the adoption of the Constitution in 1996.

“It is for that reason I will be administering oath or affirmation because my own understanding of the Constitution is that ‘after’ means ‘after’,” Justice Mogoeng said to applause.

Motsamai vowed that he would talk to President Cyril Ramaphosa about the release of political prisoners who remained behind bars.

“I will also ask the intervention of the EFF on the issue of military veterans, people whom I was fighting for liberation with.

“They don’t have places to stay and aren’t working. Many Umkhonto weSizwe and Apla cadres now look like hobos and have been forgotten by the government and the people.”

Motsamai said he would visit the Incredible Happenings Church leader Prophet Paseka Mboro at his church in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni, on Sunday to thank him for helping him secure his release.