South Africa

Death of inmate at Mangaung Prison raises concerns over escalating violence in correctional facilities

By Edwin Naidu 47 min ago

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While the Department of Corrections (DCS) remains ambivalent about the extent of violence under its oversight, the Judicial Inspectorate of Corrections (Jics), which defends the rights of inmates, has expressed concern about the escalation of the use of force at the private Mangaung facility in Bloemfontein.

Jics spokeswoman Emerantia Cupido said the level of violence was very concerning and the visitor to the Independent Correctional Center stationed in Mangaung reported that there had been 178 use of force incidents at the correctional center. between July 2019 and February 2021.

“The violence in Mangaung is not just limited to incidents of use of force,” Cupido said. She said the inspection, led by Inspection Judge Edwin Cameron, was concerned about violence in the public-private correctional facility run by a consortium led by UK security firm 4S.

Cupido said that from July 2020 to February 2021, there had been 132 incidents / cases of assault with inmate violence being widespread and a major concern. Therefore, she said that a thematic inspection led by the Jics Legal Services team took place at the center on August 12 and 13, 2020 to establish the circumstances / causes of the violence at the center.

“The purpose of this inspection and the finalization of the report was to present the findings, discussions, conclusions and recommendations on the complaints received by the Judicial Inspectorate of Corrections regarding incidents of violence (including the use of force) in Mangaung, ”she said.

DCS spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo said DCS leadership has carried out operational visits to correctional facilities across the country, verifying adherence to policies and procedures.

“Mangaung Correctional is only one of the centers visited. The management was informed of the incident of stabbing, detainees and that of an official, ”he confirmed.

“There is violence in our centers. We have 243 correctional centers in this country and surely we would have informed the country if there was violence in any of them. In the event of an incident, it should be reported to our National Operations Center and Jics. All that is in front of us are isolated cases and we have the capacity to deal with them. Therefore, we have no violence in our facilities, ”he said.

But according to Cupido, Jics was investigating the artificial death of an inmate on January 27, when six inmates in Mangaung stabbed another inmate to death. The delay in finalizing the investigation was in part due to some of the officials who worked in shifts and were not always available.

Jics had also been informed of the stabbing of a police officer last weekend in Mangaung due to the use of force which had been used to restrain the detainee.

“The level of violence is a big concern for Jics. The August 2020 thematic inspection report was finalized, with recommendations and was sent on March 4, 2021 to the Minister of Justice, the Deputy Minister of Corrections, the Portfolio Committee, the National Commissioner of DCS and to the management of the Mangaung center, ”she said.

Jics had been informed of an officer’s stabbing in Mangaung due to the use of force that had been used to restrain the inmate. Jics’ regional office would visit the Mangaung center next week after a series of complaints from inmates at the center, Cupido said.

Former prisoner Thulani Ndlovu, now an advisor at the Aurum Institute in Parktown, said gang violence was rife in South Africa’s prisons. “I never went to Mangaung during my time in prison, but I knew people who went there, and we corresponded; he complained of official brutality and was still locked up because of the violence in the prisons.

“However, in general, in my experience, gang violence in most prisons is still present and officials are doing their best to stop it. However, they don’t have the ability or the intelligence, because in most cases they are reactive rather than preventive, ”Ndlovu said.

Independent Sunday

Death of inmate at Mangaung Prison raises concerns over escalating violence in correctional facilities

SourceDeath of inmate at Mangaung Prison raises concerns over escalating violence in correctional facilities

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