They tried to kill me twice in prison - Marikana activist

(Jackie Clausen, Gallo Images, Sunday Times)
(Jackie Clausen, Gallo Images, Sunday Times)

Johannesburg - Murder accused Marikana activist Napoleon Webster was moved from one cell to another while he was in prison, following two attempts on his life, he said on Wednesday.

"A gang of 28s wanted to initiate a guy and that person was told to come and stab me, twice," he told reporters in Braamfontein.

"I don’t know if that motive was political, but a lot of people suspected that it was," he said. He reported the matter to authorities.

"Our justice system doesn’t have feelings. It is failing us, mostly poor people," Webster claimed, reflecting on his time in prison.

He was arrested on January 6 and charged with murder. He said he was arrested in court while arranging for lawyers to help with the release of others arrested for the alleged murder of ANC councillor Sabata Petros Chale, 39. He was hacked to death in Marikana West, North West, in December 2016, allegedly during a dispute over RDP housing.

Read: My life is worse now - Marikana miner

Nomzamo Zondo, Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) director of litigation, said police had assaulted Webster after his first arrest. SERI intended to take legal action over this.

The Rustenburg Magistrate’s Court denied him bail in April. He spent just over 200 days in prison. He was released on R3 000 bail, following an order by the North West High Court.

Webster believes he was arrested because of his ability to mobilise Marikana residents against ANC presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa. He claimed this was the reason why his bail conditions stipulate that he must stay away from Marikana.

SERI is representing the families of the 34 slain Marikana miners.

ReadRamaphosa apologises for role in Marikana massacre

Webster said he was informed while he was in prison that Ramaphosa had apologised for his role in the Marikana incident that took place in 2012.

“The apology was just to boost his presidency campaign. I won’t rule out that my prolonged prison stay was to get me out of the way for Ramaphosa to campaign in the area,” he said.

Webster said he intended working with other activists in Marikana to fight for housing and better pay for miners.

SERI’s Lindo Mdabe said, because of the poor administration of justice in Rustenburg, Webster's constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial had been violated.

Webster said he intended to help the other 13 people with whom he was arrested.

His case was postponed to September 12.

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