Prison officials are the biggest killers of prisoners, according to a Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services report by Inspecting Judge Deon van Zyl.
Judge Van Zyl said the incidence of inmate murder by prison officials was even more frequent than murders committed by other inmates and raised “serious concerns”.
“Officials appear to have been involved in acts of violence against inmates who are alleged to have assaulted an official or other inmates . These actions often constitute a form of revenge in response to an attack on an official,” he said, citing ineffective disciplinary measures at the disposal of correctional officials.
“Swift criminal prosecution should, in appropriate cases, ensue, particularly where the level of violence constitutes cruel and inhumane treatment of inmates, if not acts of torture. Our reading of the reports, however, indicates recalcitrance on the part of authorities to take decisive action against correctional officials involved in such cases,” he said.
South African Prisoners’ Organisation for Human Rights president Golden Miles Bhudu said they had been lobbying the Correctional Services department for years about unnatural prison deaths.
Lukas Muntingh, project co-ordinator at the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative, said the problem was that South Africa had not classified torture as a crime.
“We need legislation to criminalise torture so that every death in a prison will be treated as a suspicious death.”
Correctional Services did not respond by deadline. - Cape Times