Grootvlei whistle-blowers fear poisoning

The Jali Commission on Tuesday heard that the four Grootvlei prisoners who made a video exposing prison corruption had been living on bread and soft drinks for the past ten days because they feared being poisoned if they ate prison food.

Gayton Mckenzie, spokesperson for the four, testified before the commission that nine members of the "26" prison gang and four members of the "28" gang worked in the Grootvlei prison kitchen. The commission earlier heard that gang members in prisons countrywide were enraged at the four's exposure of prison corruption and have vowed to kill them.

Mckenzie told the commission that it would be very easy for gang members to poison them by spiking their prison food.

He said they earlier received permission from prison chief Tatolo Setlai to eat food supplied by their families.

However, meat bought for the four by a family member was confiscated by Moira Dooling, the assistant head of the Grootvlei prison.

Mckenzie also testified that the four video makers and other prisoners involved in the making of the video all lost their prison jobs shortly after the video was broadcasted and the Jali commission started.

Their jobs included: being tea makers, sign writing, working in the Grootvlei prison kitchen and cleaning. They were never informed in writing of their dismissal and were not paid their monthly salaries.

He added that prisoners involved in making the video also lost their monitor status along with its privileges. - Sapa

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