SA man dying of hunger in prison


At this moment, while you are reading this, Willem Ratte is dying in a South African Prison. Completely innocent of any crime.  The SA State arrested him on Oct 1 2010 – but four weeks later the State has still not formulated any formal charges against him and even the magistrate demanded to know under what charges Ratte was being held.

While the judicial system is still deciding what crime he has actually committed, this man is dying.

Illegal police raid:

RATTE Willem arrested Oct 1 2010 - AGAIN As his hunger strike entered its 25th day, the State said it was ready to continue with the case, but “this could only be done if Ratte applied for bail”. However Ratte’s counsel Advocate Jurg Prinsloo SC said his client does not need to apply for bail —  as he had not committed any crime whatsoever. His eight co-accused were released on free bail last week. Ratte and nine others were arrested during an illegal police raid on his farm in Balmoral, Mpumalanga on Oct 1 2010… carried out without any legal search orders from a law court.

The rumours being spread by the police in the absence of formal charges before the court are that the men face charges of illegal possession of dagga (which a police-informer had found on an adjacent farm), unlicensed firearms and ammunition. The case has been postponed until November 1. –

Among the ‘suspiucious items’ confiscated on the farm, were farm implements and pellet guns. (photos below) as well as books on hunting and an apartheid-era air-force uniform cap and books on hunting. The farm implements were used in the training of unemployable Afrikaans youths, who were being taught carpentry and masonry at the farm so that they could start their own construction businesses. In South Africa, whites are barred from the labour market by the ANC’s black-economic-employment laws.

Ratte Weapons of Mass Destruction confiscated by police Sept302010 Balmoral farm



The state claims that it is even investigating rumours of  ‘possession of child pornography” against Cmdt Willem Ratte (62), an ex-reconnaissance soldier with a small child. (picture below). People in the public gallery audibly caught their breaths when a defiant Mr. Fanie Mavundla, senior prosecutor, made this announcement in the Witbank Magistrate’s Court on Monday. After he was pressed by the magistrate to ‘at least tell me on what, and why Ratte was arrested’, Mavundla responded with this information.

  • Mavundla said that when Ratte and nine other men were arrested at the Balmoral Farm Youth Centre in Mpumalanga, a laptop computer, more computers and cellphones were confiscated. Adv. Jurg Prinsloo, Senior Councel for Ratte, said Mavundla dit not specify whether the computers belonged to his client. In a previous statement, Ratte said the police “stole his goods and he was never given a receipt for these goods to indicate whether they were his.”.

A visibly weakened Ratte is still on a hunger strike and refuses to apply for bail. He demands that the state drops the charges against him because he’s innocent.

Magistrate Ernst du Plooy also insisted that Mavundla must “at least tell me on on what, and why Ratte was arrested.”  Mavundla was defiant towards the magistrate, saying that “because the accused refuses to apply for bail, according to protocol it is not the duty of the state to explain.” After the magistrate pressed him again, Mavundla then rescinded, explaining “under protest” that Ratte was being charged for the possession of illegal firearms and ammunition, as well as possession of marijuana. However Ratte says that a small package of dagga was found on a neighbouring farm; the ‘illegal firearms’ were not his and he had not been aware of them.

Then Mavundla dropped his child pornography bomb: “Child pornography was found on one of the computers, and the state is still considering whether it will open a case for this against the accused,” Mavundla said. 

“Ratte involved with protecting ships along Somalian coast against pirates” – claims State

The initial charges against Ratte shortly after his arrest were the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and dealing in drugs. The state is also opposing bail because Ratte is allegedly involved with the protection of ships along Somalia against pirates.

  • “It is clear that the man has several contacts in high places. If we let him go, he can intimidate witnesses, or disappear,” Mavundla claimed.

Prinsloo explained to Magistrate Du Plooy however that “ the state must make very sure of their case before arresting a man like this. He is protecting people internationally, and yes, he probably does have contacts in high places. That is why the State must make certain of their case.”

Prinsloo told the court that Ratte also said that the dagga (marijuana)  under discussion was found on a neighbouring farm. The “illegal firearms” were not even his and the onus is on the State to prove that they were his – he (Ratte) was not aware of them.



About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

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