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Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 16:26 UK

Lion death S African is released

Mark Scott-Crossley, file pic
MPs and trade unions have condemned Scott-Crossley's release

The South African man convicted of feeding one of his ex-workers to the lions has been freed on parole, after three years in jail.

Mark Scott-Crossley was originally given a life sentence for murder but this was reduced after a judge said there was no proof the man was alive.

The remains of Nelson Chisale's body were found in a Limpopo lion enclosure, causing a national outcry.

Trade unions, MPs and right groups have condemned Scott-Crossley's release.

The case has highlighted the racial tensions in rural South Africa.

Scott-Crossley's lawyers says the release comes after he served two-thirds of his sentence.

Family welcome

Sarie Peens, the area's correctional services co-ordinator, said Scott-Crossley was moved on Thursday morning from a correctional facility in Barberton, where he was serving his sentence, to Bushbuckridge.

It is clear... that those who are rich and white will continue to be treated differently to those who are poor
Cosatu statement

"He is now being placed under strict conditions on parole until completion of his sentence," Ms Peens told the South African Press Association (Sapa).

Scott-Crossley's family was at the reintegration office to welcome him, Sapa reported.

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) official Jan Tsiane said the case shows that, 14 years after the end of apartheid, the criminal justice system remains biased towards the rich.

"It is clear... that those who are rich and white will continue to be treated differently to those who are poor," said Cosatu in a statement.

The chairperson of the parliamentary Correctional Services Committee, Dennis Bloem, says he will be writing to demand an official explanation for Scott-Crossley's early release, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) reports.

The South Africa's Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (SAPOHR) was similarly angered by the move, saying the "sudden release of a violent and racist offender... cannot be left unchallenged".

'Mass action'

SAPOHR President Miles Bhudu called for the release of all non-violent first time offenders, as well as prisoners who have served more than half their sentences, those older than 60, and the terminally ill.

White lion
Nelson Chisale was thrown into a white lion breeding ground

He threatened "rolling mass action in prisons countrywide" by SAPOHR supporters in seven days if the government did not take action.

South Africa's Young Communist League said it was "deeply disturbed and outraged" by the release of "this monstrous killer".

Mr Chisale was beaten up by Scott-Crossley and another worker having returned home to collect belongings after being dismissed from his work on a farm in the Limpopo province in 2004.

The Appeals Court last year found there was no evidence that Mr Chisale had been alive when thrown into the lion enclosure, so Scott-Crossley could only be convicted of being an accessory to murder after the fact.

The other worker, Simon Mathebula, is serving a 15-year sentence for murder.


SEE ALSO
Life for S Africa lion murderer
30 Sep 05 |  Africa
South Africa's violent farms
03 Sep 03 |  Africa

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