Desperate measures

Eric Naki

Eric Naki

The man who tried to set fire to the ANC headquarters, Makhosana Makhuvele, is a desperate man seeking desperate measures to get attention.

He appeared in the Johannesburg magistrates court yesterday on a charge of arson after he allegedly tried to set fire to the ANC headquarters on Friday. The hearing was postponed to Monday.

The well-spoken Makhuvele did not plead. He appeared calm and collected.

Magistrate Steff Bezuidenhout said the case would be postponed so that Makhuvela's personal particulars could be verified.

His legal aid representative told him to keep quiet after Makhuvela told the court that he had made a statement and submitted it to the president's office.

Makhuvele told Sowetan last week that he wants Mbeki to return his "sensitive documents" about his 27 years "unlawful" imprisonment by the state. He also said the ANC ignored several letters he had written to the organisation.

He claimed he was imprisoned in Phalaborwa for four years in 1974 for armed robbery and later for seven years for car theft. Instead of being released in 1984, he was kept in prison for a further 17 years. He said a prisoner with the same name was released instead of him.

Makhuvele was released in 2001. He wants the state to pay for his wrongful incarceration. He said he had approached all the relevant government offices and state institutions between 1998 and 2006 for help.

Makhuvele intends instituting a civil claim against the Correctional Services, Justice and Home Affairs departments for his ordeal.

In March 2003 he briefed a Johannesburg law firm to sue the state for R10million, but he could not pay the firm's R100000 deposit for legal fees.

Now he wants to take his case to the International Commission of Jurists in Nairobi, Kenya, which has promised to take up his case.

He once tried to set fire to the South African embassy in Nairobi after embassy staff refused to help him to get a new passport and a plane ticket to return home. He claimed that he was mugged and his money was stolen. Makhuvele, who sometimes goes by the name of Wasalani Wahalata, was charged with attempted arson but released later.

In a letter to a Malamulele magistrate, Home Affairs conceded that someone else had fraudulently assumed Makhuvele's identity.