'Prison trying to kill me'

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

A prominent ANC leader in KwaZulu-Natal and former Pietermaritzburg New Prison boss, Russel Ngubo, is in the fifth day of a hunger strike at Westville Prison.

Ngubo claims that the prison authorities refused to allow him to be treated at an "outside" hospital, though the prison doctor had authorised it. Ngubo is suffering from severe backache. A Dr R Maharaj recommended he be treated at St Aidan's Hospital in Durban.

"I was due to go to hospital in February, but no one took me there. Instead, Captain Johan Swanepoel ordered the Emergency Support Team [a unit that specialises in safeguarding high-profile prisoners] accompany me to King Edward VII Hospital. They couldn't attend to me because I had no appointment."

Ngubo said he would die in the prison cells because Swanepoel had ordered EST members to kill him.

"He instructed them in front of me."

Ngubo said he had written letters to prison authorities detailing his plight and warning them that he would go on a hunger strike if they didn't take him to hospital.

Nonala Ndlovu, provincial spokesman for the Correctional Services Department said the department was investigating Ngubo's claims.

"We received Ngubo's claims of assault on November 11," she said.

But the department isn't aware that Ngubo is on a hunger strike.

Ngubo was convicted for murdering members of the IFP, including Nash Ngubane, in Impendle in 1995. He was also charged with defeating the ends of justice for interfering with state witnesses during his trial. He is serving 25 years.