Today I once again weep for my country. As usual my sympathy goes out to victims of crime, so what I am about to say right now might be controversial to some:
People of South Africa, our government has sold us out once again, just like in the SANRAL saga, but this time to a security company called G4S. Yup, tonight Carte Blanche has exposed our department of correctional services' decision to privatise one of our prisons (not sure if there are others as well). The show focused on this specific facility, which is a maximum security prison outside Bloemfontein. During the show, the most horrifc footage was revealed of prisoners being drugged and tortured by the staff. Things got so bad that correctional services had to intervene and give G4S a hand. The CEO of the company, predictably, claims not to know anything about these human rights violations.
And what is South Africa doing about it? Cheering these bastards on! Carte Blanche's Facebook and Twitter pages are soiled with the most disturbing comments of people wishing that all prisoners were treated the same way. Some claim that they have enjoyed watching the torture. Very medival, but that's the way forward, right?
Anyway, I have also seen less harsh comments, from persons who have been victims of crime, feeling that prisoners should not be given airtime. I can totally understand why somebody who suffered the same ordeal as people like little Neo and her mother (also shown in this episode) would feel that way. However, I have the following thoughts that might (hopefully) change a few opinions:
1. Prisons are not a safe environments to work in. It was reported that staff at this specific facility had been held hostage by some of the prisoners before - meaning the wardens have been victims of crime themselves.
2. As a result, quite a few staff members resorted to committing crimes as well, because whether you like it or not, their behaviour is illegal. And even of you are okay with the methods of these cowboys, keep in mind that torturing another human being, regardless of what he/she has done, eats away a bit of your soul. And the guards guilty of the torturing, are living out in society - what stops them from lashing out against one of us - the innocent and vulnerable?
3. Prisons are supposed to rehabilitate people. The reality of South Africa is that sentences are often not that long - An inmate enduring 7 years of abuse at the hands of G4S's employees before being released from prison is not going to turn out a better person for it. In fact, he/ she could become an even bigger danger to society.
4. Our constitution protects life and human dignity. Change that by all means, but just remember that you might also lose some of your own rights in the process. Plus, legalising torture and/or the death penalty might just give corrupt individuals in positions of power an easy way to get back at their enemies - frame them, shame them and hang them.
5. Our current prison model is a mess. As I mentioned, it is not effective in rehabilitating people, and a prison is a dangerous environment to work in. There are different prison models out there that are more effective, such as the open prison system implemented in Scandinavia and Finland. However, unfortunately the government has abdicated their duties, once again to a corrupt organisation - they have given them a 25 year contract to continue with these primative methods, meaning prison reform will be slowed down, or maybe not even happen, in the process.
So let go of your selective judgement South Africa - SANRAL = G4S. If you're comfortable with that notion, keep cheering and enjoy watching your snuff. Give the Taliban another name and grant them free reign in South Africa - You'll probably be shaking your pom-poms for them as well...
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