Retraction: Department of Correctional Services did not refer death of an inmate to the police

Mangaung Prison

 

On 21 October 2015, the Press Ombudsman, Johan Retief, ruled on a complaint [read complaint here & here] by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) against the Mail and Guardian about the article Prison inmate ‘tortured to death’ – Chilling new claims of inmate abuse at the embattled Mangaung prison are emerging published on September 4 2015. A sidebar, reporting the DCS’s response, was headlined Slow progress in leaving ‘no stone unturned’.

Retief ruled that the statement in the article that the death of in custody of inmate Tebogo Bereng was referred to police should be retracted. Such a referral had not, in fact, been confirmed by either the DCS or by any other source.

The Mail & Guardian apologises for the error.

Retief dismissed five other complaints by DCS, in which the department had alleged an “intentional, and negligent, departure from the facts”.

In October 2013, the M&G published [Part I, II, III, IV] the results of a year-long investigation by Ruth Hopkins of the Wits Justice Project into allegations that Mangaung prison in Bloemfontein, run by British security firm G4S, had been forcibly injecting inmates with anti-psychotic medication, and had been using electric shocks and torture. The then minister of correctional services, S’bu Ndebele, committed to a full investigation and a report to be made public within 30 days.

As reported in the September 4 article, about which the DCS had complained, such an investigation has still not been finalised, nor a report published.

Complaints dismissed by the ombud included that Hopkins qualified DCS’ failure to finalise the report as ‘slow progress’; that Hopkins noted that despite DCS’ knowledge of the abuse, it handed back control of the prison to G4S in August 2014; and that DCS was unable to confirm if or when the report will be published.

Visit www.presscouncil.org.za for the full finding.

Read the Wits Justice Project’s response, here.

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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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