Cwele co-accused wants tech at his fingertips

South Africa
May 22 - Convicted and imprisoned drug dealer Frank Nabolisa is demanding special privileges. He wants correctional services to allow him to have his own personal computer while he is in jail.
Convicted drug dealer Frank Nabolisa who is serving a 20 year sentence in a maximum security facility. Picture:

Convicted drug dealer Frank Nabolisa wants his own computer in prison in order to study further.

Now he has taken the Correctional Services Department to court, saying the department is infringing on his rights because his request has been denied.

Correction officials say prisoners are allowed to study, but cannot allow Nabolisa to keep his own computer, due to security concerns at the prison.

Nabolia, who was tried alongside Sheryl Cwele in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritsburg, is serving a 20 year sentence at the Leeuwop Prison after the Supreme Court of Appeal increased his sentence by eight years.

Cwele is Sate Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele’s wife.

Nabolisa's lawyer Godfrey Ezenwa appeared in the South Gauteng High Court to argue the case on Tuesday, but the case was halted due to settlement talks.

Ezenwa and advocate Reggie Pooe, representing Correctional Services, had wanted to postpone the case to June 11 in order to work out a possible settlement, but Judge Kathleen Satchwell refused.

"You won't postpone for a settlement. Do the work that needs to be done now," she said.

Ezenwa told eNCA.com that Nabolisa had registered for a course via Intec College which required him to have access to a computer.

He said Nabolisa’s case also dealt with his prison grading, which determined the level of privileges he would get.  Nabolisa was initially graded A, but was later "downgraded" to Grade B, Ezenwa said.

"Without any notice he was downgraded. In order to be downgraded, he must have infringed the Correctional Services Act of which he has not done," he said.

Ezenwa said he felt confident the computer issue could be resolved, however the grading issue was proving to be a sticking point.

Correctional Services spokesman Logan Maistry told eNCA.com that the department was keen to settle the case.

"We were of the view that this was not a matter for court," he said.

Maistry said there was a "breakdown in communication" between the head of the Leeuwkop centre and and Nabolisa.

He added that there were several other channels which Nabolisa could have followed before approaching the court, such as writing to the Gauteng regional manager.

"The issue of the computer is not an issue...Applying for matric is also not an issue," he said.

Maistry said there were, however, concerns about safety in the prison and as a result prisoners used computers in a computer room.

He added that the grading change was as a result of Nabolisa's sentence changing from 12 to 20 years.

Nabolisa has appealed to the Constitutional Court to have his sentence reduced.

In March his lawyers argued that by increasing his sentence, the Supreme Court of Appeal infringed on his rights.

Ezenwa told Judge Satchwell that he would be taking the settlement proposal back to Nabolisa in prison, and will return to court on Wednesday.

-eNCA

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