Mrs Zuma lashes the president

Durban - First Lady Tobeka Madiba-Zuma is gearing up for a serious talk with her husband, President Jacob Zuma, because she believes he dished out remission to prisoners “willy-nilly” earlier this year.

Madiba-Zuma told residents in Swayimane, KwaZulu-Natal, earlier this week: “We can’t have prisoners released because (the president) woke up feeling happy.”

Swayimane is the village where two elderly women – one 94, another 82 – were raped recently.

A 26-year-old man, Ntuthuko Khulekani Ndlela, has been charged with raping the 94-year-old woman.

Ndlela was among the prisoners released by PresidentZuma as part of a remission programme. He had been imprisoned for theft.

But weeks earlier, Ndlela’s own grandmother refused to grant permission for him to be paroled early.

Ndlela is not the only beneficiary of the presidential remission programme to be implicated in violent crime since his release.

Reduced sentences

Police in Jansenville in the Eastern Cape have confirmed that one of the men allegedly involved in the murder of an elderly farmer there earlier this month was also released on remission in July.

The remission programme saw some prisoners having their sentences reduced by six months at Zuma’s discretion.

Madiba-Zuma told residents in Swayimane: “Luckily I don’t need to set an appointment to see the president,” she said, speaking in isiZulu.

“I would like for him to take off his hat as husband and mine as his wife.

“I want to address him as a concerned female citizen of this country and find out how he could give remission willy-nilly,” she said

“Ngakhoke akukwazi ukuthi nje uma uMongameli mhlawumbe evuke ezizwa eneme, abe esethi namhlanje iparole, bese kuphuma kwasani ejele,” she said. (Therefore, it can’t be that when, maybe, the president wakes up happy and says ‘Today is parole and then everyone gets out of jail’.)

She assured the crowd that she and her husband often chatted about matters of national importance, which she, as a national citizen, had issues with.

A good listener

“So siyakwazi ukukhuluma alalele futhi, ngoba he is a good listener.” (We are able to engage honestly and he listens because he is a good listener.)

James Smalberger, chief deputy commissioner in the department of correctional services, told City Press this week that the presidential remission process was not flawed.

Ndlela and the alleged Jansenville murderer - who is still at large and who police have not named - had served very short sentences originally, Smalberger said.

The crimes they were imprisoned for were unrelated to the “heinous crimes” they are now accused of, Smalberger said.

Both were released unconditionally after they qualified for immediate release, he said.

“It would have been unlawful for the department to detain a person when his or her sentence has expired.”

No guarantees

He conceded that the department could not revisit each prisoner once they had been released.

“It is impossible to determine who of those released will next commit a crime, just like it was impossible for the department to guarantee upfront that no one will again commit a crime.”

Smalberger’s words are cold comfort for 63-year-old Busisiwe Ndlela.

She is devastated by her grandson’s arrest and allegations that he raped one of her neighbours, a 94-year-old.

As far as Ndlela is concerned, her grandson Ntuthuko is dead to her.

She does not want to see him and she does not plan to ever visit him in jail.

“I don’t want him anywhere near my property. As far as I’m concerned he can stay in jail for the rest of his life.

“He has been nothing but trouble.

Tarnished their name

“He has completely tarnished our name in this community,” the distraught woman told City Press in her Swayimane home.

She confirmed that she had, before his release on remission, refused to sign for him to be paroled.

Andile Mdletye, the correctional services commissioner for the Pietermaritzburg area, told City Press the department was busy with Ndlela’s parole when Zuma’s remission came into effect.

Ndlela had served half his sentence and was eligible for parole.

Before parole can happen, correctional services has to establish whether the inmate has a positive support system to justify early release.

“A team visited the granny and she refused to sign.

“If no one signs, you can’t be released,” said Mdletye.

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