Prison system failing inmates

2015-09-10 06:00

Constitutional Court Judge, Justice Edwin Cameron released a report this week on his visit to Pollsmoor Remand Detention Facility and Pollsmoor Women’s Correctional Centre.

The visit was undertaken in April this year, as part of the Constitutional Court’s prison visiting project, and the report details the “sickening conditions” he and his clerks witnessed.

The Detention Justice Forum applauds Justice Cameron for undertaking this in-depth inspection of Pollsmoor Remand Detention and Women’s Correctional Centre, and producing a detailed and direct report of the conditions.

The Forum commits itself to using this report to hold the Department of Correctional Services accountable to the plan of action detailed therein.

The Forum also encourages other judges and magistrates to follow the example set by the Constitutional Court judges and to visit on a regular basis prisons in their jurisdictions. Justice Cameron states:

“The extent of overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, sickness, emaciated physical appearance of the detainees, and overall deplorable living conditions were profoundly disturbing.”

Justice Cameron describes the failures of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) to comply with basic standards required by the Bill of Rights and the Correctional Services Act.

These failures have resulted in appalling conditions for the men and women in remand detention:

.Cell conditions are so filthy that detainees have boils, scabies, wounds and sores from lice-infested bedding that has never been washed. .Detainees are sick and can’t access medicines due to persistent stock-outs of basic supplies, including tuberculosis medication..The same conditions considered in the Dudley Lee Constitutional Court case persist in Pollsmoor. Ventilation is still unaddressed, with the air “so thick, one could cut it with a knife”.

.Little HIV testing occurs, and inmates who require anti-retroviral treatment remain undiagnosed.

Detainees are locked in their cells for 24-hours a day and some are only given a chance to exercise once a month..Toilets do not flush and inmates cannot take showers due to broken plumbing.

.Stuck in conditions that are 300% overcrowded, detainees are extremely idle and frustrated.

.Detainees are treated “worse than animals”, and reported being assaulted by officials.

The entire report merits reading to understand the extent of the abusive conditions that men and women in Pollsmoor Remand Detention experience.

Justice Cameron’s visit was conducted together with the DCS Regional Commissioner, Delelike Klaas and other senior correctional officials, who worryingly, seemed just as shocked as the Constitutional Court Judge and his clerks by the conditions.

The report contains clear and achievable recommendations for urgent implementation.

These seek to ensure compliance with elementary standards and Constitutional requirements, such as clean bedding, three meals a day, access to medicines, reading materials, daily exercise, and separating alleged undocumented migrants from other detainees

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

6 myths about male cancer
Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.