While the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) remains ambivalent about the extent of violence under its watch, the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (Jics), which champions the rights of inmates, said it was concerned about the escalation in the use of force at the privately run Mangaung facility in Bloemfontein.
Investigative Journalism - Torture / Sexual Abuse
In 2013 Wits Justice Project's Ruth Hopkins uncovered gross human right's violations in Mangaung prison in Bloemfontein, including electroshocking, forced injection with antipsychotic drugs, legnthy segregations and abuse at the hands of prison warders.
Inmates say they were given electric shocks and forcibly injected at the multinational security company’s Mangaung Correctional Centre, writes Ruth Hopkins
The Wits Justice Project (WJP) spoke to two activists who were tortured during apartheid and to two people who were victims of torture after 1994. Their stories are chillingly similar and point to a continuing and systemic indifference to this very grave human rights violation.
In March, Kgolofelu Khoza was allegedly chained in a crouching position to a door in an isolation unit – also known as the “bomb cells” – at Johannesburg Correctional Centre. He claims he was kept there for two days and a night.
I broke the story on a private prison in South Africa where guards inflicted horrendous abuse. But to really understand what happened, I needed to talk to the torturers themselves.
The inquest into Ahmed Timol’s death is important in the context of South African history as it provides an opportunity for us to understand the sacrifices past generations have made for this country so that we may improve it today. However, it also forces us to look at the use of torture in post-apartheid South Africa.
Anyone who still thinks SA’s prisons are luxury hotels should think again – particularly about the underlying reasons why inmates died, warders were critically injured and cells set alight during rioting at Leeuwkop, Krugersdorp, St Albans and Johannesburg (Sun City) prisons late last year.
Clearly the use of force behind bars is highly contentious. In terms of the law, the only permissible force is minimum or necessary force, used to stop or prevent a dangerous situation. Any other force is regarded as gratuitous, excessive and unlawful. Yet prison officials operating in the context of the prevailing culture of violence appear to resort to violence as a default position.