Prison bosses mulling CCTV, MPs told

2012-09-05 18:16

Cape Town - A year after the start of an initiative to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) in jail cells, prison bosses still have to adopt a formal position on the matter.

Correctional services chief operations officer Nontsikelelo Jolingana said on Wednesday her department had not yet done a proper study on the feasibility of using this technology.

She told Parliament’s correctional services portfolio committee her department wanted to take part in discussions and debate around the installation of such systems.

"[But] we have not yet taken a formal management position on the use of CCTV cameras."
Some "desk-top research" had been done.

"That document is still in a very raw format... which we cannot say is the position of the department."

Oversight visits to prisons

For this reason, the department was sceptical about making a presentation, Jolingana said.

Earlier, committee chairperson Vincent Smith said its year-old initiative was the result of information garnered during oversight visits to prisons.

It was also prompted by letters and deputations from inmates, and from department officials.

On the feasibility and appropriateness of CCTV in correction and remand detention cells, he said the committee’s view was "we need to use technology to improve service delivery".

He noted that the department’s core mandate was security and the rehabilitation of inmates, but said this could not happen "in an environment where human rights are abused with impunity.

"So... if I got back to my cell at 17:00, when officials left, and the gangsters took over and raped me, or forced me to put contraband up all sorts of body orifices and so on, there cannot be any rehabilitation."

The committee had heard from prison officials that there were staffing problems.
"We thought CCTV would assist in that regard," Smith said.

The committee had consulted various concerned parties.

Inmates appear to accept proposal

Initially, there was scepticism around possible constitutional problems with regard to inmates' right to privacy.

"But many people have now agreed that the risks of not [putting in CCTV] far outweigh [these] risks."

The committee had not heard any sort of protest or complaint, including from the inmates themselves.

Smith said the committee would now proceed to finalise its report, which would be made public on completion.
Jolingana said her department still wanted an opportunity to "engage thoroughly" on the matter.

According to reports, there were 214 assaults, in which six inmates died, in South African prisons last year.

  • pierre.joubert.338 - 2012-09-05 18:31

    This is one sick mess; criminals raping criminals!!!! Outside jail it is a criminal offence to rape some-one; inside it is another matter. A blind eye is turned towards moefe perverts who confuse man with a woman. SICK beyond measure. The prison authorities will someday be held accountable before God.

      chaplinncharlie - 2012-09-05 19:09

      "Correctional services chief operations officer Nontsikelelo Jolingana said on Wednesday her department had not yet done a proper study on the feasibility of using this technology"... Do they actually know how to use the technology...

  • john.dough.5836711 - 2012-09-05 19:02

    They are prisoners, they should have no rights at all - least of all the right to vote!

      okonkwo7 - 2012-09-05 19:15

      Dumbest comment I have read in a while! Just go play with your toys

      brandon.mccutcheon.56 - 2012-09-06 06:20

      @JohnDough. Answer this. You own assets which you didn't declare with SARS because you didn't know you had to, so they charge you and you get sentenced to a year in jail where you share a cell with 25 rapists and murderers. Don't you think that you have a right to protection considering you never really harmed an individual? Prisons were designed to keep dangerous criminals away from the community and further to rehabilitate transgressors.

  • JohnDough - 2012-09-05 19:32

    @okonkw07 - since when do you have access to the Internet from your cell? Lube up, Bubba is looking for you tonight.

  • johan.jacobs.5680 - 2012-09-05 19:43

    Big Brother is watching.

  • - 2012-09-06 08:49

    Nothing tells the truth like a camera.

  • humbulanij.vhulahani - 2012-09-06 09:06

    Who have been in prison amongst commentators?

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