Ex-prison boss can’t have a TV in his cell

2009-03-03 00:00

Former prison boss Russel Ngubo, who is serving 25 years’ jail for murder, cannot keep private audio-visual equipment in his prison cell, although prison officials previously erred in allowing him to keep it.

Acting Judge Graham Lopes made this ruling in the Pietermaritzburg High Court yesterday, dismissing with costs Ngubo’s application for the return of the equipment.

Ngubo, a former Stoffelton ANC branch chairman, was convicted in 1993 of the murder of IFP official Ernest Nzimande near Impendle. He allegedly involved policemen and Correctional Services colleagues and prison vehicles in the crime.

Ngubo, now in Westville prison, received permission in 2005 to use audio-visual equipment to study law as a Unisa student. His relatives gave him a television set and video recorder which were installed in his cell and were confiscated a few months later. After he approached the court, the equipment was returned to him in August 2007.

In December 2007 it was again removed after a prison official learned that prisoners were not permitted to have private TV sets. Ngubo was told Westville jail’s library had at least three sets of equipment which he could use.

He was told that he had been allowed to use the TV set in his cell without proper procedure or authority. Officials allowed him to use the equipment in ignorance of their own regulations, Lopes said.

In October 2007, Ngubo was asked by letter whether he was still studying and what his 2006 and 2007 results were. He refused to accept the letter, but prison officials said the department obliged them to monitor his progress.

Ngubo refused to accept the letter or reply to it on the basis that he was paying his own fees and it was of no interest to the prison authorities that he was doing so or how he was doing it.

Lopes said prison officials had proved that Ngubo’s possession of the equipment in his cell was in contravention of a binding order and which officials were bound to enforce.

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