Shambolic management at Groenpunt contributed to violence, say MPs

Police and paramedic vehicles responding to the violence at Groenpunt prison in January 2013 (Photo: Antoine de Ras for IOL)

Police and paramedic vehicles responding to the violence at Groenpunt prison in January 2013 (Photo: Antoine de Ras for IOL)

A report by the parliamentary portfolio committee on correctional services says the failure by Groenpunt Prison management to implement recommendations contributed to the violence which broke out there earlier this year.

Violence erupted during a January 7 oversight visit to the Free State prison by members of parliament, who were accomplished by journalists.

According to The Star, prison officials assaulted an inmate during the visit and destroyed journalists’ photographs of the incident. The inmate later died, but his death was not reported to the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) as required by law.

The report by the MPs detailed disturbing practices and conditions at the prison, including exploitation of inmates by warders, failure to report inmate-on-warder stabbings and warder-on-inmate assaults, lack of medical care and rehabilitation, overcrowding and understaffing and gang activity.

The Department of Correctional Services told The Star that it is taking steps to instill “a culture of human rights and order”. DCS spokesman Koos Gerber said the department is finalising disciplinary proceedings against Groenpunt officials and offenders.

Related articles by the Wits Justice Project:

When perpetrators become victims by Ruth Hopkins, Carolyn Raphaely and Anton Harber

Apartheid tactics stand the test of time by Carolyn Raphaely

Oscar Pistorius case highlights plight of South Africa’s disabled prisoners by Carolyn Raphaely

Our prisons need a watchdog with teeth by Ruth Hopkins

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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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