December 4, 2018 5:13 am
Donald Masoka, 44, died lying on the cold floor of his cell on Friday afternoon at Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru Prison, where he had been serving a life sentence for murder. He had been due to wed his long-time girlfriend, Tebogo Mohlala, the next day.
For four hours, his 23 cell-mates at G1 section tried to revive him and to alert guards about his fits. He suffered five seizures within that period.
An inmate who witnessed the incident said Masoka had been jolly and looking forward to his wedding day when he started getting dizzy spells shortly after lock-up at 4pm.
He then went to the communal toilet where he vomited. “I went to check on him and found him lying on the floor having fits. We put a toothbrush in his mouth and stretched his muscles. He got better after a few minutes.”
The prisoners started banging the door to get the attention of warders. but none came. Other prisoners from the three neighbouring cells also joined the bid to raise the alarm, and a warder came at around 6pm.
“He had another fit right in front of the member (warder) who then left to get advice from his authorities. Another guard came an hour later, but instead of helping, he shut the door,” said the inmate.
A male nurse arrived at about 9pm but was unable to get into the cell as there was no guard to unlock the door.
“The nurse could immediately tell that Masoka was dead by just looking at him. The nurse left to look for a doctor to certify him dead. The police came, and the body was removed at about 2am, about six hours after he had died.”
Correctional Services Department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said: “An investigation to determine the cause of death has been instituted.”
Masoka’s relative, Velaphi Makwela, said the family were still confused about the death and that the prison authorities did not want to take any responsibility. “We need answers and will take the prison to court if we have to.”
Correctional Services Gauteng spokesperson Mocheta Monama said: “Allegations that correctional officials refused to take the inmate to hospital are untrue. According to a preliminary investigation, he was asthmatic and repeatedly defaulted on his treatment.”
Bride-to-be Mohlala was devastated. The two first met in high school and became involved in 1994. After school they lost touch till three years ago, when Masoka contacted her on Facebook.
“He told me he was in prison but still loved me and wanted to be with me. I bought rings and was preparing for a life with him. I don’t know what I am going to do now,” she said.
Categorised in: Crime & Politics