MPs warn of inhumane prison conditions

2012-10-24 15:45

Cape Town - Inhumane conditions in South African prisons are making the department of correctional service vulnerable to legal action, MPs said on Wednesday.

Parliament's portfolio committee on correctional services said it remained unconvinced that the presence of Independent Correctional Centre Visitors (ICCVs) were making any difference in prisons.

ICCVs are meant to engage with inmates and monitor conditions in correctional facilities.

The judicial inspectorate for correctional services told MPs the country had 214 ICCVs, who catered for 160 000 inmates.

"It's not practical, and physically impossible for them to do what is required of them," committee chair Vincent Smith said.

Smith and fellow MPs lamented the fact that rehabilitation and care programmes were not working, resulting in the entire country being left unsafe.

"You can't have a safe South Africa if those that come out of our facilities come out as worse people," Smith said.

He said prisoners did not come out worse because of who they were, but because they were abused and dehumanised at facilities meant to rectify their behaviour.

Speaking on the sidelines of the briefing, Smith said MPs would possibly look at reviewing legislation to give ICCVs more teeth.

Currently ICCVs could only bring concerns to the attention of correctional centre heads, and had to rely on officials to take action.

"These people (ICCVs) are never visible; inmates don't have faith in them and they rely too heavily on the department to take action."

Smith said despite the ICCV system being in place, inmates were still subjected to serious overcrowding, a lack of medical care and torture.

"Unless we change the role of ICCVs, there will come a time when a court case against the department will be fast and furious," he said.

  • christopher.m.lowe - 2012-10-24 15:51

    I think that they should first concentrate on the appalling living conditions that so many law abiding, but poverty stricken, South Africans living in poverty have to endure. People are in prison for good reason. Look after the law abiding citizens first.

      clifford.sithole.5 - 2012-10-24 16:17

      I visited my 2 brothers and uncle in prison on the weekend..And they were also complaining to me about the terrible living conditions. They say they must share beds most of them...How can a person live like that

      george.slade.161 - 2012-10-24 16:23

      Sounds like Clifford (awfully English) is from a Nice Family !

      BigChiefPlumbPudding - 2012-10-24 16:26

      You must understand clifford that with this massive onslaught of crime in our country, and in particular the absolute evil that is manifest through horrific acts of violence, no one is really going to give a flying %$%& about the criminals living conditions.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-10-24 16:56

      Cliff - you sniffing for sympathy? Not going to happen.

  • peter.jefferies.90 - 2012-10-24 15:53

    Prisoner should be last on the list of upgrades and better conditions!! There are innocent people who live in worse conditions then prisoners, help them out first!!!

  • Eterni80 - 2012-10-24 15:54

    time for MP's to shut the F up and start DOING and not dozing at their desks. ironically, criminals in poor conditions doesn't phase me as they are there as a result of their own actions.

  • dragonfire47 - 2012-10-24 15:55

    Oh shame well if you can't do the time don't do the crime , rot you criminal rubbish rot

  • Andrea - 2012-10-24 15:56

    "subjected to serious overcrowding, a lack of medical" Not much better than living on the street, now is it? Difference is these individuals have something to eat and somewhere to sleep at night and that is way more than we can say for hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people who, might I add, pay taxes and contribute positively towards their communities. But hell, at least they will be getting an education as well, for free, while people like me suffer monthly through rent, groceries, medicines, petrol and school fees.

  • Antipoaching - 2012-10-24 15:58

    I really don't care how "inhumane" their conditions are, I've just had my 3rd thieving bastard invasion in 18 months.... they should be kept at the bottom of a mineshaft and the lift should be dismantled!

      rofhiwa.ronald.1 - 2012-10-24 16:03

      Ur comment is very inhumane.

      Antipoaching - 2012-10-24 16:17

      Tough, I'm tired of having to live like a prisoner in my own home... so actually my living conditions are also "inhumane" Sodding criminals should forfeit all their Constitutional rights when convicted..

      kimard - 2012-10-24 16:51

      hahaaaaaaa inhumane?? and its not inhumane for them to invade the privacy of citizens? nice eh wena? your way of thinking might be inhumane bro'

  • loki.scribus - 2012-10-24 15:59

    "The degree of a nation’s civilization can be seen in the way it treats its prisoners" Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Most of you say screw the prisoners, which is what the country has done. Look what happens when they're set free.

      colin.payne.921 - 2012-10-24 17:18

      You're right. The best way to prevent that is probably to set them free from a plane at 30000 feet.

      kimard - 2012-10-24 17:43

      oi man! its the fault of apartheid - apartheid killed all decency and moral standards. :)

      loki.scribus - 2012-10-24 18:39

      I understand that you want a situation where offenders aren't set free at all. But the reality is that they are. Through effective rehabilitation the number of repeat offences can be brought down. Otherwise we might as well just kill them all... But to stuff them in a box and forget about them just shows a different kind of savageness.

  • Msika - 2012-10-24 16:02

    Bring back the death penalty part of the problem will be solved.

      dewalds3 - 2012-10-24 16:07

      Yes - and the rest has a lot of time on their hands - let them clean up and fix the problems.

      rob.gunning.1 - 2012-10-24 17:53

      Funny enough, it won't

  • johan.jacobs.33821 - 2012-10-24 16:06

    To go to prison,is a choice,not an obligation.In The Hilton Hotel ,nothing is free.

  • james.harold.946 - 2012-10-24 16:06

    What do they want to do next give them room service. These are thieves, rapists, murderers eg the scum of our country. While we are paying for there food, accommodation, lights and water we are battling to put food on our own tables and pay the ridiculous prices for water and light. Now they want to reward them for being criminals, no no let them rot

  • Spiral - 2012-10-24 16:09

    Rather the conditions of the prison be bad than the conditions outside the prison... they cause the s**t, they must deal with the s**t! You need to act human to be able to claim to have human rights! Rot away scum

  • phindile.ngcingolo - 2012-10-24 16:11

    The ICCVs should be appointed on a permanent basis like all public servants to make them more visible and provide them with resources to perform their jobs. Currently, they are working flexi-hours on a contractual basis. They also do not enjoy any benefits and are without any life or risk insurance in case they are attacked and are not eligible to a pension scheme. You cannot expect more if govt doesn't invest time and money to ICCVs.

  • robert.warriner - 2012-10-24 16:21

    When the poor and homeless (ie good citizens) are cared for this can be an issue. Until then, perhaps let it be a warning to do what is right and stay free.

  • deon.louw.7505 - 2012-10-24 16:32

    If they hate the place, maybe they won't do crime anymore when they get out. We should be building many more prisons as too many serious criminals gets bail.

  • jacques.swanepoel.372 - 2012-10-24 16:35

    People should be scared of prison. Period!

  • enlightened.bowman - 2012-10-24 16:39

    How is it that african governments always seem to have these messiah sized ideas that never ever work, regardless of how basic the subject such as distributing school books? AND, if I judge them right, again, prisoners will end up getting an education before our children. Joe Arpaio has the answer, ensure jail is not a place you want to go back to. And, before anyone comes up with some home stewed reply that statistics show that re incidence in Mr Arpaio's constituency are no better than anywhee else in the US; yes they are, I've researched it and his reincidence is under 2 percent

  • tiaan.truter - 2012-10-24 16:42

    Oh yes...I forgot that prison should be like living in a palace.They are criminals,they don't deserve good treatment.They are the scum of earth and should be treated like that.

  • hermann.hanekom - 2012-10-24 16:42

    Do they really think changing the system will stop the recycling of criminals?

  • Truth.nnete - 2012-10-24 16:59

    They should wear torn uniforms like zimbwabwe prisoners.People are killed for simple things like cellphones and laptops.The law should be harsher

  • kala.bafazi - 2012-10-24 16:59

    I think this is fantastic news. We as hard working citizens need to find ways of making life even worse in jail. Jail should not be about fun and laughter but rather about misery and depression much like the victims of crime have to suffer through. Alternatively bring back the death sentence which would alleviate the numbers in prison.

  • john.p.steyn - 2012-10-24 16:59

    Government must build more prisons, simple. When last was a new prison opened?

  • colin.payne.921 - 2012-10-24 17:05

    Gotta be joking! Half of our problem is that people live better whilst in jail than out, and the other half is that there is no punishment. People inherently know wrong from right and therefore if they choose the wrong path and hurt others as a consequence of their anti-social actions, then they forego the right to be treated as normal human beings. How many examples do we need of "Correctional service" not correcting, but merely acting as a sanctuary for those determined to go out and perpetrate the same (or worse) crimes repeatedly, before we realise that the punishment should deter the criminal not pander to their desire for a safe warm haven between bouts of criminal activity. Legal action for inhumane conditions? Please tell me, I ask with tears in my eyes, who cares, and who helps their victims? Get it right boys, flog them, starve them, nake them sleep on broken glass, hang them, do whatever you want to make them realise that crime is going to make them hurt and hurt badly!

  • mzuvukile.maswana - 2012-10-24 17:08

    Must prisons now be in the same category as two star hotels? You just gotta love this country as this is the very same country that had prisoners toyi toying in 2010 cause they wanted to watch the World Cup in tv's.

  • Jaco Botha - 2012-10-24 17:09

    inhumane f@#*k that..!!! i say lets kill those who killed,rape those who raped and those who steel rob and all those other patty crime inslave them in community services and if do it again than kill them to they are scum rootless !!! my ass

  • john.morreira.9 - 2012-10-24 17:14

    If you can't do the time,don't do the crime.

  • jaysonpaul.beckwith - 2012-10-24 17:15

    Bring back the death penalty. Then the prison's will be half full. They might even have to close a few down...

  • annelise.vanderschyff - 2012-10-24 17:45

    Bring death penalty back !!!!do the crime and do the time are go to gallows

  • vivian.harris.73 - 2012-10-24 17:51

    Bring back the Death Penalty and have public excecutions of murderer and rapists even those that commit these crimes in jail and u will see a drastic reduction in the crime rate...then u can sort out the prisons. U make prison comfy its gonna get full cause life is better inside.

  • braamc - 2012-10-24 19:15

    Let them rot

  • ayanda357s - 2012-10-24 19:48

    We need to bring back capital punishment, let's hang these people especially those who commit brutal crime like,rape and murder:-)

  • kim.mann.127 - 2012-10-24 20:06

    South Africa should become like other African countries and instead of treating our criminals like gods, we should force these people's families to support them. Many crimes are committed because people want to go to jail - it's free board and lodging at the taxpayer's expense!!!!!

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