Prisoners’ rights were not violated during riot, says state

2011-04-01 14:16

There were no human rights violations during a riot by prisoners in September last year, the correction services department said today.

“These were ... standard operating procedures in the administration of correctional services anywhere,” spokesman Manelisi Wolela said in a statement.

He was responding to a report in the Mail & Guardian newspaper which claimed that during the riot prison security personnel assaulted prisoners and allegedly forced them to strip naked in an attempt to humiliate them.

It further claimed that prisoners were tear-gassed.

The newspaper’s report was based on video footage taken at the new Kimberley prison and leaked to them.

Wolela said the report was “irresponsible and sensational”.

“The report reflects gross misunderstanding of the security operations of correctional services, especially in managing riots and destruction of state property by offenders.”

He said “appropriate force” was used to subdue rioting prisoners who were strip-searched as part of normal operations to remove illegal elements which could have been used in more criminal offences.

The prisoners, who were serving long prison terms for crimes such as murder and rape, “continued to perpetuate crimes by destroying state property and placing officials and other offenders lives in danger”, he said.

The riots resulted in an estimated R4.65 million damage to state property. 

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