Inmate alleging torture at Leeuwkop disputes psychiatrist’s report

2019-11-15 17:04
Mthokozisi Sithole, one of five inmates suing the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, for alleged assault and torture at Leeuwkop prison, being cross-examined in the Johannesburg High Court on Thursday. (Zoë Postman, GroundUp)

Mthokozisi Sithole, one of five inmates suing the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, for alleged assault and torture at Leeuwkop prison, being cross-examined in the Johannesburg High Court on Thursday. (Zoë Postman, GroundUp)

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Inmates suing the minister of justice and correctional services, alleging torture and assault, have been accused of grossly exaggerating incidents by advocate Marumo Moerane, arguing for the respondents, GroundUp reported

Moerane was cross-examining Mthokozisi Sithole in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Sithole is one of five inmates who allege that prison officials at Leeuwkop Maximum Correctional Centre tortured and assaulted them on August 10, 2014, because they were suspected of having a mobile phone in their cell. They said they were shocked and beaten.

Judge Ellem Jacob Francis is presiding and the plaintiffs are being represented by Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR). The court case started on October 28 and will resume on May 11, 2020.

Sithole was the second plaintiff to take the witness stand. A fellow inmate, Xolani Zulu, had already testified.

In response to the allegation that he had exaggerated the August incident, Sithole asked Moerane: "So is counsel conceding that I was assaulted if you are saying that I am making it more than what it was?"

"Well you did sustain certain injuries but not in the manner and under the circumstances you have described," responded Moerane.

He put it to Sithole that inmates had hurled various objects such as 2l bottles filled with water, buckets of urine and human faeces as well as electrical appliances at prison officials.

Moerane said the injuries Sithole sustained were as a result of prison officials restraining the inmates and trying to get them to leave the cell.

"That is a great exaggeration. That never happened," Sithole told the court. "First of all, let me correct one thing, 2l bottles are not sold in prison, so where would the inmates get those?"

Sithole maintained that all the inmates had left the cell peacefully on August 10.

Moerane then took Sithole through a report by Dr Joanna Taylor, a psychiatrist, who evaluated Sithole on March 23, 2017.

He said Sithole was satisfied with the contents of the report during examination by the LHR, but he was now under cross-examination denying he had made some of the statements recorded in her report.

"You do appreciate that what I'm asking you about is what you told Dr Taylor during a consultation? Can you suggest where Dr Taylor got these things that you deny telling her?"

Moerane picked apart and called into question various details that Sithole apparently told Taylor. But Sithole said he saw many doctors and he did not remember ever consulting with a female one.

Janice Bleazard, for the LHR, objected to Moerane's line of questioning, saying Taylor said her report was not a verbatim account of what Sithole had said, but a summary of what he had told her.

"The way it is being put to him is that this is how it happened… The report was a summary, not a complete record," she said.

In re-examination by Bleazard, Sithole maintained he did not know who Taylor was.

Read more on:    groundup  |  johannesburg  |  courts
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