Hitman's lavish parole farewell
Just moments after being released on parole, a convicted hitman with strong links to the ANC and KwaZulu-Natal correctional services department bosses was escorted by prison guards to the beach for a cleansing ritual, before being driven to a brand-new home in Pietermaritzburg.
Controversial inmate Russell Ngubo - who reportedly received preferential treatment from prison guards, and was accused of assaulting warders at least twice - was released from the Durban Westville Prison last week after serving 12 years for two murders committed in 1995.
The former ANC branch chairman and erstwhile New Prison deputy director was convicted in 2005 for the murders of IFP leader Nash Ngubane, in Impendle, in 1995, and IFP supporter Amon Mshengu in the same year.
But before he was officially released, Ngubo demanded to be taken to the ocean to cleanse himself of bad luck associated with a stay in jail.
The man, nicknamed Blanket, reportedly shares a close relationship with KZN prisons boss Mnikelwa Nxele. Their relationship dates back to a dark, violent period in the KZN town of Richmond in the early 1990s.
"He was accompanied by members of the EST [emergency support team] on Monday [last week] around 9am to dip in the sea. He was then driven back to the office to finalise paperwork before being driven to his newly built Pietermaritzburg house," a prison warder said.
The Sunday Times confirmed via the Umkhonto
weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) that the house was built by the organisation, using unspecified donations, on land given over by the Msundusi municipality.
Ngubo's wife, who identified herself as MaZuma, confirmed that the house was only completed in October.
An ANC comrade said the party would never dump Ngubo because he was a special cadre. "If you are not in the ANC and know nothing about his struggle credentials in the KZN Midlands you will never understand the complexities around Blanket," he said.
A well-placed source within Westville Prison said Ngubo had enjoyed a lavish existence behind bars - with all the trappings of the outside world.
Ngubo also seems to have had his release expedited, jumping the queue in front of thousands of other lifers who are eligible to be paroled.
"There are crooks that went in before him but there is no parole for them. You see how easy it was for him," the warder said.
KwaZulu-Natal correctional services spokesman Thulani Mdluli said Ngubo has been released as a high-risk, maximum category parolee, and would be kept under house arrest.