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State ordered to give reasons for super max prison transfer

- Lee-Anne Bruce

We appeared in the High Court last week representing an individual moved to South Africa’s only super maximum security prison for no clear reason

CALS represents an individual who is currently incarcerated in South Africa’s only super maximum security prison, Ebongweni Correctional Centre in Kokstad. Our client began serving his sentence at Westville Prison, which is close to where his elderly mother and child live. Over the next few years, he was subjected to a number of transfers before finally being moved to Ebongweni.

At Ebongweni, our client has been kept in a windowless, segregated cell for 23 hours per day, has been allowed very little contact with other people and has not had access to a doctor on site. The prison is almost 300 kilometres away from our client’s family, meaning that they have not been able to visit him. Though our client was already eligible for parole in October 2018, he cannot qualify for release until he is transferred out of Ebongweni.

Despite numerous attempts to engage with the head of Ebongweni and other Correctional Services officials, we have not been able to obtain adequate reasons for our client’s transfer to the super maximum security facility. We thus approached the Court in July 2019 asking that the decision to transfer him be reviewed and set aside using the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act. On 27 February 2020, CALS appeared on his behalf in the Pietermaritzburg High Court. The same day, the Court ordered the State to provide a record of their decision to transfer him within one month.

“This is the first step towards getting justice for our client,” says Thandeka Kathi, attorney at CALS. “There is no apparent reason for his rights to family life, human dignity and freedom should have been affected in this way. All our client is asking for is to be transferred to a prison closer to his family where he has the option of applying for parole.”

Read the founding papers in the case here.

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