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Report on incidents in G4S-run prison released


The Department of Correctional Services has complied with a court order to release a report on incidents at Mangaung Correctional Centre

On Friday, 28 February, the Department of Correctional Services complied with a court order to release documents related to a ten month investigation of Mangaung Correctional Centre while it was under the control of private security companies. As expected, the report details a number of disturbing incidents involving officials, health care workers and their treatment of people incarcerated at Mangaung.

After almost six years, CALS has finally been given access to a report held by the Department of Correctional Services. The report relates to an investigation into incidents at Mangaung Correctional Centre in the Free State while it was under the control of private companies G4S and Bloemfontein Correctional Contracts in 2013. CALS requested the report as part of our work on prison conditions and our interests in the state outsourcing its constitutional obligations to private companies.

As expected, the report details a number of disturbing incidents, including, for example:

  • A person incarcerated at the Centre dying while being held in a cell which is said to have had no lighting or ventilation, with the recording his death as a suicide;
  • Officials injuring people incarcerated at the Centre by assaulting them without apparently receiving sanction to use force, or firing rubber bullets into their faces when breaking up “unrest” and failing to report the shootings;
  • Officials segregating incarcerated people without proper approval;
  • Taser guns being purchased without any officials having been trained to use these weapons;
  • Health care workers forcibly injecting incarcerated people with anti-psychotic drugs and falsifying records; and
  • Management at the Centre appointing untrained staff.

In addition to the report, we also received a response from Bloemfontein Correctional Contracts, which subcontracted the running of Mangaung Correctional Centre to G4S. This response details their various denials either that these incidents took place at all or that either company failed in their duties under the law or the contract to run the Centre. The response frequently claims that they were unaware of certain policies or records the Department has relied on to draw up the report.

“We are pleased to finally be able to review the full report,” says Sithuthukile Mkhize, attorney at CALS. “However, to us, the investigation seems incomplete. The report sets out the incidents, with specific dates and times, and invites the companies to give reasons why they should not be held in contravention of the Correctional Services Act or in violation of their contract with the Department. Yet, it does not draw a final conclusion. We only know that control of the prison was handed back to G4S following their response. There is more than enough information here to question why. We are considering pursuing further legal challenges as well as a review of privately-run prisons in South Africa.”

A redacted version of the report and response are available here

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