Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Brandvlei prisoners allegedly denied access to further studies

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Dec 26, 2020

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Cape Town - The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) in the Western Cape has refuted allegations that Brandvlei Correctional Centre offenders are being denied access to further their studies.

In a complaint shared with the Cape Times on behalf of the students, it is alleged inmates were being denied fair access to study equipment, and prevented from pursuing their higher education for the 2021 academic year.

“One of these students infringed the DCS policy of not having personal pictures on his study equipment and underwent the disciplinary procedure. The inmate (was) sanctioned to a 42-day punishment of no phone calls or visitation and a further degrading of his (inmate privilege classification) A-group to a C-group,” the complaint read.

Senior DCS officials further decided that the inmate could not apply for the 2021 academic year even though it had been recommended that he be allowed to do so, under strict supervision of access to electronic equipment, while undergoing rehabilitation programmes offered by DCS, the complaint read.

It is also alleged that inmates struggled to access online platforms until the end of the 2020 academic year, with one student allegedly missing a subject rewrite.

“This rewrite was based on the fact that on the initial exam the questions asked were not part of the curriculum and there were also system glitches,” the complaint read.

In a statement, DCS refuted the claims, saying all offenders at the Unisa Hub were allowed access on a daily basis to DCS-owned laptops, and all sat for their final examinations for 2020.

The offender who infringed DCS policy had used the laptop meant for studies to download pornographic material and showed it to other inmates, the DCS said.

“The offender was sanctioned … and was still allowed to write his final examinations.

“(The) offender will be exposed to therapeutic programmes, as being advised by the psychologist, as well as DCS rehabilitation programmes. The outcome of the intervention programme will pave the way forward for this offender regarding further studies,” DCS said.

“Brandvlei Correctional Centre is one of the few prisons in the country regarded as state-of-the-art. It is for this reason that Correctional Services in the Western Cape is using this facility for all skills development programmes and further learning programmes, for all offenders who are interested in studying.

“At this facility, no offenders’ studies are compromised and no offenders are deprived of studying, instead, offenders are encouraged to study and improve their qualifications,” DCS said.

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Cape Times

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