Mangaung defends antipsychotic injections for prisoners

Despite the violent nature of the criminals kept at the prison, there was only one warder for every 64 prisoners. (Gallo)

Despite the violent nature of the criminals kept at the prison, there was only one warder for every 64 prisoners. (Gallo)

MPs heard on Wednesday that antipsychotic injections were necessary to subdue inmates at Mangaung prison.

This was the view of medical staff at the Mangaung Correctional Centre, Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services national manager for legal services Umesh Raga said.

He told Parliament's correctional services portfolio committee he had met separately with the correctional service department and private security company G4S, which was contracted to operate the prison.

Last month, the department took control of the prison after prison riots, a hostage situation, and gang violence.

Shocked and injected
Shortly after that allegations surfaced that G4S staff injected inmates with antipsychotic medication and "electro-shocked" them to subdue and control them.

"We spoke to one inmate ... and he had indicated that in 2005 he was injected," Raga said.

Raga later approached the hospital's medical team to verify the claim.

"The answer was yes, it was necessary in their professional opinion because these inmates were indicated for that kind of thing. In a normal psychotic situation in a hospital these things are permissible," Raga said.

The inspectorate obtained a list of names of all inmates injected with antipsychotic drugs and would interview as part of an investigation, he said.

Asked whether allegations of assault were reported, Raga said: "There were no allegations that were given to us or that we could find with regard to assaults in this situation."

Problematic
However, the inspectorate confirmed that finding the prisoners who were allegedly tortured was problematic.

"The question of inmates being transferred subsequent to an incident is a problem ... What we do is we follow those inmates as far as we can," Raga said.

MPs wanted to know what categories of prisoners were incarcerated at the Mangaung facility.

Raga said senior department officials had told him they had never seen "so many gangsters in one street".

Despite the violent nature of the criminals kept at the prison, there was only one warder for every 64 prisoners.

"I believe in a maximum [security] centre the inmate to warder ratio should ideally be one to 30," Raga said.

The inspectorate would submit a report to MPs once its probe was completed. – Sapa

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