Thursday marks 42 days since prison officials rearrested Motsamai at his house in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni, for allegedly participating in a protest march by disgruntled members of the Military Veterans Association outside government offices in Pretoria early this year.
Motsamai previously served almost 28 years in jail for the murder of a traffic officer during a PAC-sanctioned bank robbery in Rustenburg in the late 1980s. He was released on parole last year.
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha yesterday informed Motsamai of his decision to incarcerate him for three months. Masutha had drastically reduced the punishment from the initial 24 months that the Correctional Supervision Board at the Boksburg Prison had recommended.
“I looked at what was presented to me and I felt that the board’s recommendations were too harsh compared to the violation the offender had committed. They gave him the maximum penalty for violating parole conditions, but I just could not see the aggravating circumstances. I had to reduce it to three months. I wouldn’t want to go into details about my decision because I don’t have his file with me,” Masutha said.
“I spoke with him (Motsamai) earlier and he told me that he did not breach his parole conditions. I told him that I deal with what has been represented to me on record. He and his lawyer are at liberty to make presentations to myself and then I can make a decision,” he said.
Masutha said Motsamai’s incarceration will include programmes that would specifically focus on the conduct that led to the violation of parole conditions.
His lawyer, Advocate Andries Nkome, has maintained his client’s innocence, saying the claims against Motsamai were based on hearsay from faceless informants. The parole board met three days after his arrest and elevated the matter to Masutha for a decision which he was expected to make within 48 hours.
Two weeks ago, Motsamai threatened to go on a hunger strike in a bid to pressure Masutha to make a decision. His wife, Mantombi Magagula, said her husband had changed his mind after prison authorities warned him that engaging in hunger strike would jeopardise his health, as he has high blood pressure.
“I went to see him today (yesterday). He is keeping strong, but it pains us to see him back there again. He has been through a lot and doesn’t deserve this horrible treatment,” Magagula said.
Nkome said Masutha’s office had not communicated the decision to him. “Either way, I’ll push for a written decision and decide on the way forward. This is long overdue,” he said.
Motsamai has always been at loggerheads with the State, even before he was released on parole in 2017. He was granted a day parole with strict conditions that included leaving the prison at 8am and being back by 4pm. During this eight-month-long parole, he was fitted with a monitoring device on his left ankle.
In his last interview with The Star on the first anniversary of his release in January, Motsamai complained that he had been forced to live on painkillers and heat rubs because the device had injured his ankle, causing his foot to lose sensation.
“My release has caused me so much sickness,” Motsamai said at the time. Masutha will review Motsamai’s progress before the three months lapses.