A reply to a DA parliamentary question has revealed that the number of assaults on prisoners by prison officials has doubled in just two years.
The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Mike Masutha, told the DA yesterday that 1 298 sentenced inmates and remanded detainees have made formal claims regarding physical abuse by prison officials. This has doubled since 2012 from 609 cases of such assault.
Although these are individuals who are being held for criminality, the South African Bill of Rights still holds that the basic human rights of any individual must always be protected under section 12(1)(c) of the Constitution. This section stipulates that every person has the right to be “free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources”.
It is clear that these cases of prison assaults at the hands of prison officials is fast on the rise or it may be that inmates are now finding it easier to report such occurrences. In any event, Minister Masutha must avail himself at the very next sitting of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services and outline what he is to do to fix the systemic problems in our justice and correctional system.
In this briefing Minister Masutha must make clear his commitments to CCTV camera’s in prison cells so that assaults by prison officials or other inmates are easily identifiable and those caught in the act are brought to book.
Prison officials are charged with overseeing the sentences of convicted criminals in a humane and fair way. They are to do so within the ambit of the law. Minister Masutha cannot allow our prison officials to become a state unto themselves acting beyond the scope of South Africa’s criminal justice system.
Shadow Minister of Justice
Source : Democratic Alliance