G4S abuses in South African prison still ignored


“On 17 December 2013, former inmate Tebogo Meje was called to the office of the unit manager in Mangaung prison, a South African jail run by British security behemoth G4S. There, members of the Emergency Security Team (EST)–a team of warders also known as the ‘ninjas’, armed with electrically charged shields and other non-lethal weapons–interrogated Meje. They asked him about the home-made weapons that were surfacing in the prison. Meje was not a member of the notorious prison gangs, who regularly stab each other and warders with weapons fabricated from shards of shattered toilet pots; on the contrary, he wasn’t even supposed to be in jail. One and a half years after the incident, the High Court acquitted him on appeal and he is now a free man again.

When Meje told the Ninjas he knew nothing of the knives, they didn’t let him go. “They made me lie on my stomach, stripped me of my shirt, poured water on me and then electroshocked me and kicked me,” Meje told the Wits Justice Project. “I had a swollen mouth, a swollen elbow and my skin was discoloured from the shocks,” he said.”

Senior Journalist at the Wits Justice Project, Ruth Hopkins, writes about the persistent level of impunity for gross human rights violation at the privately-run Mangaung prison in the Free State. In October 2013, G4S – the biggest security provider in the world – lost control of the prison, amid violent riots and stabbings, and strikes by prison officers. In August 2014, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) handed the prison back to G4S. Although then Minister of Correctional Services, Sbu Ndebele, promised to “leave no stone unturned” into the investigation of human rights violations at the prison, there is still no report made available – one and a half years later. The Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS), the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and the South African Police Services (SAPS) have also not addressed allegations of human rights abuses in the prison.

To read more and find out about an attempt taken to hold G4S accountable, click here. Also read the article as it appeared in the Daily Maverick, here

Listen to Hopkins and Meje shed light on the cruel practice of solitary confinement and human rights abuses at Mangaung prison.


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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