PAROLEE JUMPED QUEUE
Mark Scott-Crossley, the farmer who together with his workers threw an ex-employee's body to lions, was allowed to jump the parole queue that led to his release last week.
Sowetan yesterday established that the parole committee presiding in his case did not follow the correct procedure of involving the victim's family in the process of considering his application.
During his stay in prison, Scott-Crossley had also proved not to be a model prisoner by assaulting a fellow prisoner. In 2006 the Barberton magistrate's court found him guilty of assault and sentenced him to two years imprisonment or a R4000 fine.
He paid the fine.
Yesterday, parliamentarians who visited the Barberton prison where Scott-Crossley served his sentence discovered that there were prisoners who were supposed to have been considered for parole before him but were overlooked.
Chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on correctional services, Dennis Bloem, confirmed that more than 100 prisoners who were supposed to have been considered for parole as early as June had been overlooked.
"This is unfair to the prisoners who have been overlooked while Scott-Crossley was considered for parole," said Bloem.
Yesterday, an upset member of the late Nelson Chisale's family, Fetsang Matlala, said they were never involved in Scott-Crossley's parole application.
"We were never contacted, and we only heard about his release when the SABC contacted us for comment."
This goes against the grain of a procedure introduced by the Department of Correctional Services aimed at facilitating and promoting the involvement of victims' families in parole application hearings.
In terms of the procedure, "the complainant [victim's family] may either attend the meeting when the offender's possible placement on parole or under correctional supervision is considered, or may request the board to consider a written representation".
Yesterday, Correctional Services coordinator for Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West, Sarie Peens, could not deny or confirm if the procedure had been followed. Peens said what transpired during the parole board hearing was confidential.
However, Human Rights Commission chairman Jody Kollapen shot down Peens' response. Kollapen said although what transpired in the hearings was confidential, "it is important for the public to know whether the correct procedure was followed".
Kollapen said, in releasing Scott-Crossley, the parole board should have taken into consideration "the seriousness of the crime he committed, the power relations between him and the workers he instructed to assault and dispose of Chisale's body, the fact that he was not a model prisoner and also his race".
Late in 2005, Scott-Crossley, a Hoedspruit farmer, was sentenced to life imprisonment for throwing his former employee Nelson Chisale to the lions.
Last year the Supreme Court of Appeal set aside his murder conviction and sentence. It gave him a five-year imprisonment on a lesser offence of being an accessory after the fact. Last Thursday he was released on parole.
His co-accused, Simon Mathebula, is serving an effective 12-year sentence.