EFF MP Kenny Motsamai sheds a tear as he pleads for political prisoners

Kenny Motsamai has expressed concern about the state military veterans.
Kenny Motsamai has expressed concern about the state military veterans.
Image: Thulani Mbele

New EFF MP Kenny Motsamai broke down outside parliament on Thursday as he pleaded for the release of political prisoners and for better treatment of military veterans by the state.

Motsamai is out on parole after spending nearly three decades in prison for killing a white traffic officer. On Thursday, Motsamai was sworn in as a member of the National Council of Provinces, alongside 53 other candidates.

Speaking to SowetanLIVE shortly after the swearing-in ceremony for MPs, Motsamai said he was happy and thanked EFF voters for the opportunity to be in the legislature.

Asked which portfolio he would be overseeing as an MP, he responded: "I'm still worried about some of our cadres, some of our political prisoners they are still behind bars."

Motsamai said he was also worried about military veterans - the people who had fought for SA's liberation but were now destitute. He said they were getting only R1,200 in social relief aid for distress.

"Those people are suffering like nobody's business. Those people, the military veterans, were getting R1,200. They said it's the SRD [social relief of distress]. Our people who I was trained with, they are suffering like no one's business,” said Motsamai.

He appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa to consider improving the wellbeing of military veterans and to grant general amnesty to political prisoners who were still languishing in jail.

"I am appealing to the president to consider the issue of political prisoners who are still languishing in jail. No one can release those people ... If the president can give our people general amnesty because they are there for the right cause, they were fighting for liberation," said Motsamai, his voice breaking and tears streaming down his face.

The government has previously said there were no political prisoners in SA.

Motsamai is a former military commander of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla) who spent 28 years in jail for killing a white traffic officer. Apla was involved in an operation that included a robbery in Rustenburg, North West, that led to the death of the traffic officer in 1989.

He was sentenced to two life sentences in 1989 and was released from Boksburg prison on parole in June last year.

"I was trained by Apla and I am proud of their training. They taught us that our land was robbed from us, our land was robbed from our ancestors and we must repossess the land," he said on Thursday.

He said when he came out of jail he tried to unite the PAC but realised that the party was no longer a PAC that was fighting for land.

"I then joined the EFF and the EFF brought Kenny Motsamai to parliament," he said.

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