Families of Boksburg prison inmates concerned for relatives’ safety

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Families of inmates at the Boksburg prison, east of Johannesburg, are concerned for their relatives’ safety. Prison guards are seen firing rubber bullets at inmates in videos circulated on social media and shared with the SABC.

Inmates are also seen throwing stones at the guards. Some of the detainees have been injured.

Prisoners are also seen hurling stones at the guards. Some of the prisoners have been wounded.

This man’s brother is serving a long prison term. He prefers to remain anonymous in order to protect his brother from harm. “That’s inhumane like if you are in closed-off areas you can’t tear gas and pepper sprays. And that is when I think it started to be like a mini-riot. I think they broke down the doors and they tried to force them open and then they ran out and the guards assaulted them.”

Calm restored

Meanwhile, the Correctional Services Department says that calm has been restored to the Boksburg prison.

The department’s spokesperson, Singabakho Nxumalo, says that a group of inmates became unruly during an operation to search for contraband.

“Credit must be given to correctional officials for conducting themselves in an orderly manner in spite of extreme levels of unbecoming behaviour and provocation by some of the inmates. Those involved will be identified and corrective measures taken against them.”

Complaint against prison guards

A prisoner rights activist, Glynis Marriday, says she’ll approach the South African Human Rights Commission to lodge a complaint against prison guards for allegedly abusing inmates.

Marriday says that the department’s National Task Team carried out a similar operation at the Johannesburg prison last week.

“They are violating their rights. They are supposed to be rehabilitated and they are supposed to be safe. But they are not being safe. Because you cannot shoot rubber bullets at an offender in the protection of their correctional services. We need to bring this to [Minister] Ronald Lamola’s attention. The Minister needs to tell us why they are doing this.”