Prisoners reveal brutal torture, beatings to a court

Inmates from a maximum security prison told a court of brutal torture and beatings on Friday, in a test case for new torture laws.

The department of prisons is being sued by inmates for almost $100 000 (R1 030 070) for abuses alleged to have occurred in 2005, while the inmates were serving time at St Albans Maximum Security Prison, near the city of Port Elizabeth. According to court documents, routine mistreatment   which included electric shocks   started after a senior official, Babini Nqakula, was stabbed to death inside the prison. 

The prisoners were suspected of killing Nqakula, a relative of the former safety and security minister Charles Nqakula. Some of the 231 inmates bringing the case claim to have been forced by guards to strip naked and lie on the floor in a human chain, with their noses touching the anus of the inmate in front. 

Ahmed Patel, one of four prisoners called to testify in court, said that he had to clean blood and faeces strewn all over the maximum security section after a round of beatings during a lockdown. 

“The inmates were crying like pigs,” he said. “The treatment was so inhuman. I saw warders’ uniforms covered in blood, and they were drunk, hitting the shit out of prisoners.” 

‘Revenge’ attack
Inmates claim they were mistreated in a “revenge” attack by prison officials, and complain that disciplinary charges against the guards involved were withdrawn. They also claim they were denied medical treatment after suffering injuries. 

Abuse of prisoners is rampant in South Africa’s notoriously over crowded prisons. In July, the government passed the Prevention and Combating of Torture of Prison Act, making torture a crime. 

“What we have in the high court now is a test case of four inmates,” said their lawyer Oswald Egon. “They are claiming financial compensation for physical and psychological injury.” The case has been dragging through the court since 2005, but is expected to end next month. Egon said he was confident that the case was going well, despite the delays. – AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.


To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sapa
Guest Author
Advertising

Schools: Confusion rather than clarity and confidence reign

The way in which Angie Motshekga has handled the reopening of schools has caused many people to lose confidence in her

The backlogs, denials and future of testing Covid-19

The National Health Laboratory Services finally admitted to a bottleneck last week, after denying there were any issues since April. According to the service, the backlog of 80 000 tests started in the first week of May
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday