Africa-Press – Eswatini. An unexpected police station visit by a rape convict who was supposed to be serving his sentence has prompted a serious investigation.
Themba Vusi Malinga, a polygamist who is in his 50s, was convicted and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment at the Nhlangano Magistrate’s Court two years ago. He was known to be serving his sentence at the Nhlangano correctional facility when he showed up at the Gege Police Station, demanding the release of his travel document.
The document had been handed over to the police when he was released on bail in 2020, while awaiting his trial before Nhlangano Principal Magistrate Florence Msibi, who eventually convicted him. Consequently, the presiding magistrate handed down a 15-year sentence.
This resulted in Malinga being sent to jail. Understandably, the convict was not satisfied with the verdict.
It is understood that while serving his sentence, Malinga tried to have the conviction and sentence reviewed at the High Court.
Given that review proceedings usually take a long time to conclude, through his lawyers Msibi initiated another court action, where he sought to be released on bail, pending his appeal or review proceedings.
But the application was opposed by the prosecution, and the appeal eventually took off at the High Court.
Arguments were still pending at the High Court when it later emerged that Malinga was out of custody.
The issue was brought to light when Malinga paid an impromptu visit at the Gege Police Station, where he had gone to ask for the release of his travel document. Astonished police officers requested Malinga to provide documentation to prove that he had been released appropriately from the Correctional Services.
Explanations that were advanced by Malinga were not satisfactory. He had allegedly told officers that his lawyer was on his way with the documentation, but that never materialised.
Investigations by the Saturday Observer discovered that Malinga had been released from the Nhlangano correctional facility on June 3, 2020.
Apparently, this was after documents had been tendered suggesting that he had been released on bail, pending appeal. This was also confirmed by HMCS Public Relations Officer Gugulethu Dlamini.
The contradictions from explanations advanced by the prosecution and authorities at the Correctional Services resulted in police officers suspecting that there could be foul play in the release of the inmate.
As a result, an investigation is now underway to determine who is at fault regarding the whole issue. The ongoing investigation is also expected to find out if no documents were forged in order to facilitate the release of the convict.
Questions which have to be answered in the investigation include whether the Correctional Services conducted proper scrutiny of the documents which were tendered to allow the inmate to be released.
Comment could not be obtained from the High Court Registrar Nosipho Mazibuko, who requested to be sent a questionnaire.
No response had been received at the time of going to print.
The ongoing investigation is being handled by the Commercial Crimes Unit at the Police Headquarters. This was also confirmed by Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati, yesterday.
“Malinga’s matter was reported and an investigation is currently underway,” she said.