Will paraded prisoner sue?

2012-03-17 17:31

Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula may have broken the law by parading armed robbery suspect Bongani Moyo in front of television cameras and photographers this week.

Moyo, a serial jailbreaker, escaped with two other inmates from Pretoria Central Prison on Wednesday.

The three were quickly recaptured. Moyo, Khumbulani Sibanda, and Leon Dube were taken to a press conference hosted by the minister.

All three were shackled, limping, bleeding and visibly in pain when they appeared in front of journalists to be berated by Mapisa-Nqakula.

Legal experts believe Moyo and his co-accused have a strong case against the minister for her actions.

Lukas Muntingh, project coordinator for the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative said the trio’s rights were clearly violated in terms of the Correctional Services Act.

Section 123 of the act states: “No person may publish any account of correctional centre life or conditions that may identify a specific inmate unless the inmate concerned grants permission for such publication.”

City Press has reliably learned that Moyo did not give his consent to appear at the press conference.

Muntingh said: “The decision to parade awaiting trial prisoners in such an inhumane manner raises questions about the correctional services minister and her department’s conduct.”

The Law Society of South Africa also expressed shock and concern at the “parading” of the prisoners.

“Although we acknowledge the seriousness of the crime situation in our country, we as lawyers can’t condone the patent abuse of basic human rights exhibited at the press conference,” said co-chairpersons Nano Matlala and Praveen Sham on Friday.

“Mapisa-Nqakula, would have been better advised to focus on the systemic shortcomings and problems within the correctional services environment that facilitate such breaches, rather than exploiting a press conference to parade rearrested escapees.

“Our government departments and officials should not be seen to endorse the violation of basic human rights,” the society said.

Moyo’s lawyer, Donald Somo, refused to comment whether his client would take legal action against the state. Moyo is due to appear in court again tomorrow.

The department of correctional services did not respond to several requests for comment.

This was Moyo’s third escape attempt. Last year he escaped from the Boksburg prison in March and was rearrested near the Beitbridge border.

Five months later he walked out of the Pretoria Magistrates Court on crutches and was rearrested shortly afterwards.

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