ANALYSIS | Is enough being done to monitor parolees?

2020-03-11 05:27
Piet Mabotja walks down to the cells after being handed two life sentences for the rape and murder of a woman in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries building in Pretoria in 2017.

Piet Mabotja walks down to the cells after being handed two life sentences for the rape and murder of a woman in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries building in Pretoria in 2017. (Alex Mitchley, News24)

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After being released from prison in 2015 having served time for murder and attempted rape in Mpumalanga, Piet Mabotja first journeyed to Gauteng, where he found a job as a cleaner in Pretoria. This is where he murdered again after raping his victim. 

News24 went on a fact-finding mission to figure out why Mabotja did not get a life sentence in 2007 for murder and what his movements were while on parole which led to him raping and killing Nomathamsanqa Regina Majola in 2017.

KwaMhlanga murder

According to a prisoner profile on Mabotja by the Department of Correctional Services, the 35-year-old was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment on 12 February 2007 for the murder and attempted rape he committed in KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga.

News24 attempted to find the court judgment to ascertain why Mabotja was not sentenced to life in prison, which is the minimum prescribed sentence for murder.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the records from that period were no longer available and the senior public prosecutor in KwaMhlanga could not even find out whether the case was finalised in the regional or High Court.

READ | Man gets 2 life terms for rape, murder of colleague and stuffing her body in shaft

Without the judgment or information detailing the crimes Mabotja committed in Mpumalanga, it cannot be ascertained why the court deviated from a life sentence.

It can, however, be assumed that deviation was borne out of the fact that the murder may have not been premediated, he could have been a first time offender, in which case the prescribed sentence for murder is 15 years' imprisonment or there may have been compelling and substantial circumstances which led to the court steering away from imposing the sentence of life in prison.

Parole

Mabotja spent around eight years and nine months in prison before being released on parole on 2 December 2015.

Correctional services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo told News24 Mabotja was placed on parole for having served the minimum required time and met the requirements in terms of attending to rehabilitation programmes.

Nxumalo said there were various rehabilitation programmes - including anger management, counselling, substance abuse recovery and life skills - which inmates attended while incarcerated.

Other programmes available are determining the causes of offending behaviour and correcting measures.

Mabotja's parole movements

Without giving a date on Mabotja's correctional service's profile, he was first admitted to Skilpadfontein community corrections in Mpumalanga, where he completed 360 hours of community service, before transferring to Cullinan community corrections, east of Pretoria.

He was then transferred again to Mamelodi and is believed to have found employment as a contracted cleaner in the capital city.

Based on this information, we know that Mabotja was granted permission to change his physical address, moving from Mpumalanga to Cullinan in Gauteng and finally Mamelodi.

READ | Man behind bars for rape, murder 'still using social media'

He was classified as high risk upon his release in 2015 and was downgraded to a medium-risk parolee on 16 March 2016. He was again downgraded to a low-risk parolee on 3 November 2016.

Without going into the merits of Mabotja's reclassification, Nxumalo said the risk classification of parolees was dependent on their behaviour.

He added while parole conditions were kept between the state and the parolee, it was the adherence of bail conditions and toeing the line that helps in determining a parolee's risk.

Examples of parole include the frequency of having to go to the department's offices in person, officials visiting the parolee's residence from time to time as well as the parolee reporting his movements to the department, especially when seeking employment.

Parolees are also not allowed to drink alcohol or subject themselves to any other form of substance abuse.

READ | EXCLUSIVE: More charges for rapist and murderer Piet Mabotja for using cellphone in jail

Shortly before Mabotja raped and murdered Majola in December 2017, he was upgraded to high risk on 21 August 2017. It has not been established what led to the reclassification, but it may have been for a minor parole transgression such as not being home during an organised house visit by correctional services officials.

According to the profile, Mabotja attended 11 compulsory office visitations from 20 September 2017, including a supervision committee meeting on 20 May 2018.

Majola rape and murder

While on parole, Mabotja reoffended when he raped and strangled Majola to death after luring her to a secluded area in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries building in Tshwane.

Both Mabotja and Majola were contracted to work as cleaners in the Sefala building.

Majola raped another woman near Stanza Bopape clinic in Mamelodi in September 2018 and robbed her boyfriend in the process.

He pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to two life terms and an additional 57 years earlier in March.

Conclusion

From the information sourced, it appears correctional services was keeping track of Mabotja as a parolee, but it seems his violent nature and propensity to reoffend slipped through the cracks.

Unless parolees are monitored 24/7, there will always be opportunity to reoffend, however in the case of Mabotja, had he served his full 18 year sentence he would still be in prison, the same would apply if he was given a life sentence for the first murder he committed.

Either way, these crimes would have never happened, and a dangerous man would have been kept from prowling the streets for the longest time legally possible.

Read more on:    piet mabotja  |  pretoria  |  crime  |  rape  |  gender based violence  |  judiciary  |  courts
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