Security company denies electrocuting, drugging Mangaung prisoners

2013-10-28 17:10

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British security group G4S denied that its workers had electrocuted and drugged prisoners at Mangaung prison, the maximum security facility it ran before the government stepped in to restore order earlier this month.

The Wits Justice Project said some prisoners were forcibly injected with anti-psychotic medication and subjected to electric shocks.

"We do not use any form of torture or shock treatment," a G4S spokeswoman said today.

She said the staff also did not have access to medication and they did not administer drugs: "All medical decisions for inmates are handled and addressed by independent certified medical staff."

The abuse allegations at Mangaung – the second-largest privately run prison in the world according to G4S – follow scandals at the British company such as failing to provide enough guards at the London 2012 Olympics and discrepancies in tagging prisoners in Britain.

Ruth Hopkins, an investigative journalist with the Wits Justice Project, said she had documented cases of beatings – including electroshocking – involving about 30 inmates. She had also documented about 20 cases of forced injections of anti-psychotic drugs.

"A pattern that emerged throughout my investigation is that inmates who were considered difficult or who were involved in some problem, they would take them to the single cells in the prison, strip them naked, pour water over them, put them on a metal bed frame and use these electroshock shields to shock them," she told Reuters.

The Wits Justice Project is part of the Journalism Department of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and investigates alleged cases of mistreatment and miscarriage of justice in South Africa's prisons and justice system.

In a formal statement reacting to the most recent allegations, Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele promised an exhaustive investigation.

"As the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), we view these allegations, of forcibly injecting offenders with antipsychotic medication and using electroshocks to subdue and control them, in a very serious light," he said.

"We will leave no stone unturned in this investigation, in order to ensure that those implicated in such inhumane acts face the consequences of their actions."

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