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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Activist forms party for jailbirds

Activist forms party for jailbirds

March 5 2011 at 05:18pm

By Carien du Plessis

Prison rights activist and former convict Golden Miles Bhudu has registered his own political party for prisoners, their families, prison warders and victims alike, but will only be ready in time to contest the 2014 elections.

Bhudu, who attended this week’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) summit as the leader of the Corrections and Civil Rights Movement, a party he registered last year, said he had “a mandate that comes from inside (the prisons) and from outside”.

This mandate, he said, came through his organisation, the South African Prisons’ Organisation for Human Rights, which has been speaking on behalf of prisoners on criminal justice issues.

Bhudu was most recently in prison in 2009 for helping an Israeli national escape, and famously marched in front of Luthuli House with heavy chains in defence of President Jacob Zuma before Zuma became head of state and before his corruption charges were dropped early in 2009.

Bhudu said it had cost him a mere R500 to register the party and another R150 to print a notice of intent. He also needed 500 signatures of supporters, but claimed he had managed to collect 5 000.

Registering for the elections would cost tens of thousands of rand at least, but for that Bhudu also has a plan.

“I am going to talk to like-minded political parties to form a coalition,” he said, adding that he hoped to win the votes of the 165 000 or so prisoners, the almost one million people who, according to him, went through the criminal justice system annually, as well as those on bail, former prisoners, their families and friends, police, prison warders, and “ordinary, law-abiding citizens”.

He also said his party would like to see the victims’ charter implemented, adding that the party aimed to represent victims too because “before you have a victim, you must have a perpetrator, and before you have a perpetrator, you must have a victim”.

Seeing that prisoners were only allowed to vote in the general elections, and not in local elections, Bhudu said his party was aiming to make its electoral debut in the next general elections in 2014.

Bhudu, during discussion time at the IEC summit on Thursday, asked Correctional Services Deputy Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who was there in his capacity as ANC elections head, to pay heed to the prisons constituency.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe this week announced – in his capacity as acting president while President Jacob Zuma was abroad – that the local government elections would take place on May 18.

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