Newsmaker: Not yet freedom for Kenny Motsamai

2017-01-15 06:01
Former PAC combatant Kenny Motsamai has been granted full parole. (PAC)

Former PAC combatant Kenny Motsamai has been granted full parole. (PAC)

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Johannesburg - ‘I have no regrets about what I did. I would do it again,” says Kenny Motsamai.

The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) member and Azanian People’s Liberation Army commander, who was paroled on Wednesday after almost 28 years in jail, sits across from me at the dining room table in his wife’s tiny home in Katlehong, wearing a black suit.

“I wasn’t a criminal. I was fighting the apartheid government and the people who came and robbed our land from our forefathers with the barrel of a gun.”

Motsamai still can’t believe he has been paroled.

“The parole officer came to me and said, ‘Today [January 11] you are not going out. We are going to go see the parole board, maybe they’ve made a decision.’ Then I was a bit worried and I said ‘When are you guys ever going to release me?’ The guy said ‘No, let’s go chat to these guys’ and we went,” he said.

“When we got to the office the parole officer said ‘Today we are giving you full parole, from today you are going to sleep at your home’.”

At that moment he was overcome with emotion because he had been promised, for many years, that he would be released, but it never happened.

“After 27 years and 11 months I’m free at last. I’m a free man and I thank God for being out. I’m so, so happy that I can sleep in my own bed, in my own home because I had lost hope,” he gleams.

Electronic tracker

Although Motsamai has been granted parole, he is not completely free.

He takes out an electronic tracker from his blazer pocket and says his movements are still monitored.

“I’m moving with a tracker on myself, I’ve got a chain on my leg. If I commit a crime they will know, but I’m a politician, I cannot commit a crime. Like today, I want to go to Southgate mall and I had to inform the community corrections service and they said I can go, but I’d have to tell them when I came back.”

Motsamai was granted day parole last year under strict conditions that included leaving the Boksburg prison daily at 8am and returning before nightfall. His movements were also monitored with a tracking device, and he was prohibited from participating in political meetings.

He was arrested in 1989 at the age of 26 for the murder of a traffic officer during a bank robbery in Rustenburg‚ which was sanctioned by the PAC’s military wing, Apla.

Motsamai is allowed to find a job or start his own business and he has wasted no time in doing so. He has a car wash business which has been up and running since last month.

Thanks to a R40 000 donation by infamous Katlehong Prophet Mboro, real name Paseka Motsoeneng‚ Motsamai opened the car wash in his neighbourhood not just for himself, he says, but to provide jobs to unemployed youth.

When he speaks about young people he becomes passionate, saying that although he is happy to be out of prison, he is saddened that many young people are behind bars.

“Prison life is not right and I feel ashamed when youth go to jail for small crimes,” he says.

“The masses of prisoners are Africans serving long sentences and it’s for things like smoking drugs or stealing clothes. I want that to change.

“When whites kill and assault us, they don’t go to jail. Prison was made for the African, the ‘swart gevaar’, people who the apartheid government considered as very dangerous people,” he adds.

Motsamai says it is unfair that in a democracy, so many political prisoners are still behind bars.

Eugene de Kock is a pure criminal

“Our government trusted the wrong people when it comes to dealing with issues of this parole thing. So many of us [PAC members] are still behind bars for fighting for a good cause. People laid the foundation for democracy which people are enjoying now, while some [of us] are not enjoying that democracy.

“For example, Eugene de Kock is a pure criminal, not a politician [political prisoner]. He was given unconditional release. I got a tracker and he didn’t.”

Despite the length of time he spent behind bars, Motsamai says he is not bitter because he is a man of God and is looking forward to enjoying his time at home with wife Mantombi Magagula and his three children Karabo (28), Busi (28), and Mbali (27).

“I’m happy [spending time] with them because I didn’t give them that love [in the past], and they need it now. It’s the time to be with them now and have [good] company with them,” he said.

Motsamai was also awarded a low-cost government house earlier this month and says he couldn’t be happier. He adds that he has also found comfort adjusting to contemporary things like smartphones – he owns a Samsung Z2.

He perks up considerably when he discusses his plans to get back into politics, working on getting fellow comrades out of prison, and considering a job offer from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

“I’m a loyal PAC member and I want to take it [the PAC] forward. In 2019 we will have seats in Parliament. I haven’t yet accepted the job from EFF as the security manager,” he says.

Read more on:    pac  |  politics

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