St Albans prison torture: A conspiracy of silence

Picture: Former inmate Xolani Siko and the instructing attorney Egon Oswald

Picture: Former inmate Xolani Siko and the instructing attorney Egon Oswald

“One thing is clear: the use of force behind bars is a highly contentious issue. 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 routinely exceed accepted boundaries resorting to violence as a default position.

“It’s common cause that force was used. The question of whether force was excessive… is the issue in dispute,” Dyke told Mshunquane. “If force is used against an inmate (the rules dictate) he must immediately undergo medical examination [and] an injury report must be filed – particularly when there’s an allegation of an assault on an inmate by an official.” It’s also the responsibility and obligation of the head of prison to report any complaints of assault by a warder on inmate to SAPS for investigation – none of which occurred … ”

Read senior journalist, Carolyn Raphaely’s recent article as it appeared on the Daily Maverick, here. The piece gives account of the violent conduct of members of the Emergency Support Team (EST) at St Albans prison during searching procedures. Methods employed by the EST, which disregard the law and infringe upon the rights of inmates, were subject of scrutiny during an ongoing St Albans torture-related civil damages claim held in the Port Elizabeth High court last week.


Related Readings

St Albans: Tales of torture and intimidation continue

St Albans prison scandal: SA ignores UNHRC and risks international embarrassment

The measure of a nation: St Albans, the shame of South Africa’s prisons

St Albans prison: Enter the era of SA’s torture prosecutions?



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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