Authors - Ruth Hopkins

Court slams Pollsmoor’s awaiting trial facility for inhumane conditions

The Western Cape High Court decided on Monday that the conditions in Pollsmoor Remand (awaiting trial) detention facility are unconstitutional. Lawyers for Human Rights and Sonke Gender Justice filed the complaint with the court, claiming that the severe overcrowding – the facility is approximately 300 % over its capacity – and inhumane conditions should be condemned by the court and addressed by government. 


The power of words for incarcerated people

My friend and New York attorney Beena Ahmad– who worked for nearly a year with the Wits Justice Project – had a quirky habit. In her neighbourhood in Brooklyn, with great enthusiasm, she picked up books that people left out on the street. Sometimes I would share her joy, like when she picked up a battered copy of Long Walk to Freedom, placed on a garden wall. Other finds, like Form Your Own Limited Liability Company, for example, didn’t seem quite as riveting.


Op-Ed: The colour line between black and blue in New York

When American police officers shot dead two black men – Anton Sterling (Batton Rouge, Louisiana) and Philando Castile (Falcon Heights, Minnesota) – within 24 hours in the sweltering heat of July, thousands took to the streets to protest against the violence that they say is predominantly aimed at African-Americans. Two days later, a sniper killed five police officers, who were guarding a demonstration in Dallas, Texas. His aim? To kills as many white cops as possible.


Special report: Non-lethal weapons or torture tools?

Every day, South African police officers and prison wardens go to work, armed with legal tools that can be used to torture. Electric shock devices, tonfas, pepper spray and rubber bullets are classified as non-lethal weapons and therefore are assumed to be a safer alternative to guns. But the Omega Research Foundation (Omega) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) warned during a conference last week that they can be potentially lethal tools of torture.