Rape accused Douglas Mthukwane claimed that remaining in prison would prove to be “fatal” as he could be poisoned or “beaten to a pulp”.
RAPE accused Douglas Mthukwane claimed that remaining in prison would prove to be “fatal” as he could be poisoned or “beaten to a pulp”.
Mthukwane, a former spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Education and freelance journalist, was detained after he allegedly raped a 26-year-old traditional healer whom he had apparently asked to consult him at his flat on November 24.
Appearing in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on December 11, Mthukwane terminated the services of his legal representative from Legal Aid SA for “not taking instructions” and proceeded to cross-examine a witness himself.
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He informed the court that he would have to consult with his partner and family to decide whether he would seek alternative legal representation or continue to defend himself at his bail hearing on December 21.
Mthukwane complained that he was being subjected to a “trial by media”.
“People are running after noise and are being given false information. People will be shocked when they find out the truth. My reputation is being tarnished at a huge cost to my mother, children and partner,” he said.
Mthukwane was aggrieved that he was not being kept in the hospital section of the correctional centre, that he was not receiving his medication on time and that he had no access to ablution facilities and adequate water.
“I have stayed in prison longer than the prescribed period and while I am awaiting bail I might end up dead. Last Friday I was given a special plate that was prepared for me. I was told that if I don’t eat it, I would not get food. I had to leave it in case they poisoned me. It could be fatal.”
He claimed that inmates were not entitled to any rights behind prison walls and accused the nursing manager at Kimberley Correctional Services Centre of “wearing a uniform of brutality”.
“No one cares. You could be beaten to a pulp and no one will listen to you. They will tell you the court has no jurisdiction over the prison.”
Mthukwane stated that he was not given medication for two days.
“I was not myself when I refused to take the medication in a form of protest against authorities. I realised I was fighting a losing battle. My medication was confiscated and I am being rationed, whereas I am used to having my medication with me at all times. I will not attempt to overdose and I do not smoke tablets, I am not a threat to my own life.”
He indicated that he had to take his antidepressants and other medication with meals as he could suffer adverse side effects.
“It makes me dizzy, gives me a dry mouth and makes me hungry. I have to counter the side effects with holistic medicine such as cinnamon, garlic, lemon and honey, which I do not have access to. Inmates are only given Panado for any ailment.”
Mthukwane believed that his sodium valproate blood levels should have been tested as he was taking medication for epilepsy and mood stabilisers and was exposed to a stressful environment when he appeared in court.
“It is the honourable Northern Cape High Court judge Sharon Erasmus who wanted to send me for 30 days’ mental observation. I will subject myself to whatever the court says.”
The nursing manager and psychiatric nurse at Kimberley Correctional Services Centre, sister Maria Gabuza, explained that very sick patients as well as those with communicable diseases were accommodated in the hospital section of the prison.
She added that nursing staff were not wearing masks as the tuberculosis patients at the hospital section had passed the infectious stage as they were receiving treatment.
“We agreed to give Mthukwane his medication that he is supposed to take twice a day at night so that he does not miss his 8am dose after he has eaten his breakfast. The medication can be taken on an empty stomach,” Gabuza explained.
“He came to prison with his medication and once his supplies run out he will consult with a doctor to write out a prescription.
“Each cell has a toilet and urinal and we have JoJo tanks. Mthukwane is given breakfast at 6am while supper is served at 2pm. Inmates are also given bread to take in the night for those taking medication.”
Gabuza stated that Mthukwane had refused to speak to her or take his medication on a Sunday while he was preaching in church.
“All the other patients took their medication. Mthukwane ignored me when I called, while the other inmates started singing, to collect his pills.
“Another inmate, Jabulani Zuma (former ANC president Jacob Zuma’s son who is standing trial for the murder of businessman Piet Els), said he would give his medication to him as he was not in a good state.”
State prosecutor Orateng Sehume said that the investigating officer was on leave but would avail himself for the bail hearing next week.
Kimberley magistrate Evertson advised that Mthukwane be given his medication on time and postponed the matter for a formal bail application on December 21.
She recommended that Mthukwane obtain the services of a defence attorney before his next court appearance, should he not choose to represent himself.
Meanwhile, Herbert Miller from the Justice4GBVF movement has encouraged community members and government leaders, including Premier Zamani Saul, to attend the bail hearing next week as part of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign.
“Saul must also attend to issues of gender-based violence on his doorstep and not only launch programmes in far-flung areas of the Province. The community must call for bail to be denied because we are not dealing with a first offender. Inmates must not expect five-star treatment in prison,” said Miller.