Sonke Gender Justice said such a letter could make inmates more vulnerable at this critical time. File picture: Oupa Mokoena / African News Agency (ANA)
Sonke Gender Justice said such a letter could make inmates more vulnerable at this critical time. File picture: Oupa Mokoena / African News Agency (ANA)

Justice group condemns fake letter aimed at prisoners who tested positive

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Apr 24, 2020

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Cape Town – Human rights organisation Sonke Gender Justice has distanced itself from a letter circulating within correctional centres calling for inmates who tested positive for Covid-19 to take legal action against the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).

The organisation’s National

Prisons Co-ordinator, Zia Wasserman, said the fake letter - which contained their old logo - was mainly doing rounds in Westville Prison in

Durban and they had no idea yet who wrote it.

The letter read: “Kindly be advised that if you have tested positive for coronavirus, please don’t hesitate to inform your next of kin to assist you taking civil action (lawsuit) against the DCS, because the DCS is one of the government departments that is controlled by crooks and community deceivers and they don’t give a damn about what the Constitutional Court has said to them about inmates under the Phaahla Judgment.”

The letter further speaks to parole decisions being made by the National Council for Correctional Services (NCCS).

“Sonke unreservedly denies authoring the letter, providing permission for the use of our logo, or authorising the circulation of this letter.

“We do not condone the content contained in the letter and

Sonke would also like to state that we do not know the identity of the author, 'Adv Mantombi S Ntombela'.

“While Sonke remains concerned about the health of South Africa's incarcerated persons, we acknowledge that there are appropriate processes for addressing this - in a way that supports DCS staff and protects the safety of detainees.

“We consider letters such as the fake one being circulated - as well as instigatory calls made by organisations such as South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights, which calls for prison strikes at a time like this - to be reckless and counter-intuitive,” Sonke said in a statement.

The organisation said such a letter could make inmates more vulnerable at this critical time.

Cape Times

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