Prisoners go on hunger strike over parole dispute

2017-05-06 07:36
Prisoners left their meals unattended at Barberton Prison in Mpumalanga. Photo supplied by a prisoner.

Prisoners left their meals unattended at Barberton Prison in Mpumalanga. Photo supplied by a prisoner.

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Barberton - A hunger strike began on Thursday at Barberton Prison in Mpumalanga over parole delays.

This is according to an inmate at the prison. And an inmate at another prison, Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre in Pretoria, said that inmates held a sit-in there last week.

GroundUp has video footage and images from both prisons showing the respective hunger strike and sit-in.

The inmate at Kgosi Mampuru II told GroundUp that the protesting inmates at both prisons were all “lifers” who are angry at the extended delays in being considered for parole.

He said that the minimum sentence for lifers sentenced before October 1, 2004 is 12 years and four months but that some had been in prison for 18 or more years without being considered for parole.

However, spokesperson for Correctional Services, Singabakho Nxumalo, told GroundUp that there was no hunger strike at Barberton as the inmates only refused their morning meal and demanded to speak to the area commissioner to discuss the issue of parole for lifers. After the meeting with the commissioner, the inmates accepted food.

'We are being deliberately ignored'

Nxumalo said that the refusal of their food came after a request for more information was made before a decision could be taken about five lifers at the prison who were being considered for parole. He said that the parole system is currently being reviewed and that this was also a reason for the concern among inmates.

The law governing who may be considered for parole is complicated. In a nutshell, prisoners sentenced to life after October 1, 2004 can only be considered for parole after 25 years. Prisoners sentenced before then can be considered for parole after serving about half this time.

An inmate at Barberton said that the hunger strike ended at 14:00. He said that it takes a long time for Correctional Services to process parole applications. The documentation is often incomplete, he claimed, and this is the fault of Correctional Services, not the prisoners.

The prisoner said that he had been sentenced in January 2004, more than 13 years ago, and had never been considered for parole.

On April 10, the lifers at Kgosi Mampuru II sent a detailed memorandum to numerous officials including the minister and the national commissioner.

It states that their protest is against the “cruel and undue punishment” of preventing them from being considered for parole when they are legally due to be considered.

“It tortures us psychologically and undermines our right to dignity, equality before the law and administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair,” they say. “As lifers we are being deliberately ignored.”

The memo warns, “We trust that you will realise the implications that might be triggered by your ignorance of this memorandum.”

Two weeks after the memo was submitted, the inmates staged their sit-in.

In a video taken last week by the inmate at Kgosi Mampuru II, a large group of inmates can be seen in the courtyard of the prison. According to the inmate, the prisoners staged the sit-in for nearly 12 hours – from 07:00 to after 18:00.

He said that the inmates agreed to stop the sit-in after the area commissioner promised to address their concerns. In a meeting on Friday he said that the inmates had given officials more time to resolve the issue.

Read more on:    mpumalanga  |  pretoria

Join the conversation!

24.com 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

Inside News24

 
ADVERTORIAL
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.

/News
 

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...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

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 24.com network.

Settings

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.