File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Western Cape inmates ‘forced’ to study through Unisa at maximum security prison

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Jan 23, 2020

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Cape Town – The Department of Correctional

Services (DCS) has come under fire for what has been described as essentially forcing inmates around the province who study through Unisa to move to Brandvlei Correctional Centre, where maximum security prisoners are held.

An interdict application to the Western Cape High Court by the students has been pending since September 2018.

While the department said they were kept separate from maximum security prisoners, in a complaint to the Cape Times, a reader bemoaned the treatment of inmates trying to better their lives.

“There are around 40 medium security prisons throughout the province where inmates are studying through other distance learning institutions, and located near families and loved ones.

“This is a gross violation, not only of the internal policies and security classifications of Correctional Services, but the constitutional right of these inmates to access education,” the reader said.

Brandvlei, in Worcester, contains a maximum security unit, a medium security unit and a juvenile unit.

Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the department had established DCS Unisa hubs designed to assist inmates studying through Unisa. 

These hubs functioned as classrooms, with laptops, where inmates were able to study and access online services.

“Unfortunately, these hubs are not located in all 243 centres across the country. We have structured them in a manner that at least each province has one, and also targeted correctional centres with bigger numbers in terms of inmate population,” Nxumalo said.

“In order to ensure that inmates benefit equally, those studying through Unisa we then transfer to centres where they can access these hubs. However, inmates are not forced to be moved these centres.

Cape Times

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