CAPE TOWN - The South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (SAPOHR) wants inmates to be allowed cellphones in jail to warn of imminent attacks and violence.
This comes in the wake of Monday’s attack on prison warders at St Albans Correctional Centre in Port Elizabeth in which three inmates died.
SAPOHR president Golden Miles Bhudu has lashed out at the Department of Correctional Services and the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JCIS) for not addressing prisoners’ rights, and warned that a spillover of violence to other prisons is highly likely.
The SAPOHR says Monday’s violence at St Albans was unsurprising.
Bhudu says the incident could have been avoided if the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services - one of three authorities investigating the triggers of the attack - was on top of intelligence gathering in the country’s prisons.
“We regarded them as the intelligence wing of prisons. They should have picked this up long before it happened, report it to the necessary officials and before these guys become rebellious, they get intercepted information that was supposed to be channelled by the JCIS.”
Bhudu says permitting cellphones in prison would go a long way in assisting with intelligence gathering in prisons.
“We are saying these are the gadgets that can still prevent the unnecessary deaths of prisoners and prison officers, and the unnecessary, illegal things happening in this institution.”
Bhudu warns that violent outbreaks in the country’s prisons will continue for as long as the rights of prisoners and the working conditions of prison officials are not addressed.