Authors - Ruth Hopkins

Mangaung’s hellish prison: G4S not held accountable for human rights violations

The DCS took over Mangaung prison in October 2013, when security behemoth G4S lost control of the prison, amid a spate of stabbings and a hostage taking, which followed a protracted strike and dismissal of about two-thirds of the staff. In August last year DCS handed back the prison to G4S. The Minister of Justice, Michael Masutha, visited the jail shortly after the handover and stated that he was “very impressed with the state-of-the-art facility”. But Masutha made no mention of the DCS investigation which his predecessor, Minister Sbu Ndebele, announced when the news of gross human rights violations – including routine assaults, electroshocking, forced injections with anti-psychotic drugs and lengthy isolation of inmates – broke.

G4S abuses in South African prison still ignored

On 17 December 2013, former inmate Tebogo Meje was called to the office of the unit manager in Mangaung prison, a South African jail run by British security behemoth G4S. There, members of the Emergency Security Team (EST)–a team of warders also known as the ‘ninjas’, armed with electrically charged shields and other non-lethal weapons–interrogated Meje.

Inequality before the law – Is South Africa’s criminal justice system punitive to the poor?

“It would be a sad day … if the impression is created that one law counts for the poor and another for the rich and famous,” Judge Thokozile Masipa told the world last Tuesday when she sentenced Paralympian Oscar Pistorius to five years behind bars. She listened carefully to the testimony of acting National Commissioner of Correctional Services Zach Modise and said she “had no reason to believe SA prisons would not be able to cater to the needs of a disabled person.”

One man’s long walk home

Seven years ago Thuba Sithole was accused of committing an armed robbery. Two years after that he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in Leeuwkop Prison. But the story uncovered by the Wits Justice Project shows shoddy police work, dodgy eyewitness testimony, a dismissive magistrate and a careless defence lawyer resulted in an innocent man being put behind bars