Retraction: Department did not refer death of Mangaung inmate to police

On October 21 this year, the press ombud, Johan Retief, ruled on a complaint by the department of correctional services against the Mail & Guardian about the article “Prison inmate ‘tortured to death’; Chilling new claims of inmate abuse at the embattled Mangaung prison are emerging”, published on September 3 on the M&G‘s website.

A sidebar, reporting the department’s response, was headlined “Slow progress in leaving ‘no stone unturned’?”.

Retief ruled that the statement that the death in custody of inmate Tebogo Bereng was referred to the police should be retracted. A referral had not been confirmed by the department or by any other source.

The M&G apologises for the error.

Retief dismissed five complaints by the department, in which it had alleged an “intentional, and negligent, departure from the facts”.

In October 2013, the M&G published the results of an investigation by Ruth Hopkins of the Wits Justice Project into allegations that Mangaung prison in Bloemfontein, run by British security firm G4S, had been injecting inmates with anti-psychotic medication and using torture. The then minister of correctional services, S’bu Ndebele, promised a full investigation and a report to be made public in 30 days. As reported in the September 3 article, an investigation has still not been finalised and a report published.

Complaints dismissed by the ombud included that Hopkins qualified the department’s failure to finalise the report as “slow progress”; that Hopkins noted that, despite department’s knowledge of the abuse, it handed back control of the prison to G4S in August 2014; and that the department was unable to confirm whether the report will be published.

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