It Could Be You – Talk Show at Constitution Hill

Most people can’t imagine they will ever end up in prison. Criminals are punished and removed from society, while ‘the innocent’ remain responsible and participating civilians. To challenge this presumption, the Wits Justice Project (WJP) is hosting a talk show – It Could Be You – on Thursday 17 May at the Women’s Prison on Constitutional Hill, from 6-8pm.

Of the 162,162 inmates in prisons throughout the country, approximately 50,000 are remand detainees – people who have been arrested and charged, but whose trials have not been concluded. They have not yet been found guilty, and are presumed innocent under the South African Constitution. Half of these remand detainees have been incarcerated for three months or more and it is estimated that approximately 2,000 remand prisoners have been in detention for three years or more.

The reasons for so many detainees being incarcerated for so long are varied. Many suspects cannot, for example, afford to pay even relatively small amounts for bail. Add to this other systemic failures, such as the widespread problem of missing transcripts and dockets and over-stretched court facilities and personnel, and it is not hard to imagine the overcrowded prisons where the presumed innocent languish.

It could be you: Imagine you are arrested for not paying alimony, or for absentmindedly walking out of a shop without paying for an item. Imagine you cannot pay bail. Imagine having to stay in a communal cell that was built for 38, but accommodates 90. Imagine having to use the one allotted toilet in that cell, imagine surviving on a poor nutritional diet, with scarce exercise and fresh air. Imagine being a ‘non-contact inmate’ and not being allowed to touch your loved ones for possibly years.

 It Could Be You Talk Show 

Moderated by Anton Harber, the panel includes:

  • Edwin Cameron: Judge of the Constitutional Court
  • Moipone Nkwana: ex-inmate, Fear Free Life General Secretary
  • Alan Fine: former political detainee
  • Bafo Duru: ex-inmate and victim of prison torture
  • Egon Oswald: human rights lawyer
  • Ncamile Madikane: ex-warder, Director of Realistic
  • David Goldblatt: renowned photographer

About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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