Investigative journalist Ruth Hopkins says most South African prison guards are overworked and underpaid.
She says this makes them open to corruption including accepting bribes. This is in light of the Correctional Services Department’s confirmation that the so-called Facebook rapist, Thabo Bester, escaped from its Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein in May last year.
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has since called for top prison officials to be investigated and held accountable for the escape.
Hopkins says Bester’s escape raises serious concerns about what the country’s prison guards are exposed to.
“An action like this would require high levels of corruption and I have seen this in the prisons. But I think in many ways, the guards were victimised as much as inmates were because government view the guards and the inmates as commodities and made a handsome profit from them and their rights and their position and their dignity in the process were completely neglected. I’m saying, therefore, they should not have done this, but I think it’s a result of treating guards and prisoners as if they are goods.”
In the panel discussion below, security in SA prisons is under the spotlight following Bester’s escape:
Meanwhile, crime analyst, Chris de Kok, says Bester’s escape highlights the extent of corruption and collusion in the Correctional Services Department.
A manhunt has been since been launched after Bester’s escape. This after his cell was set alight in what was initially believed to be a suicide.
In the poscast below, De Kok says all staff who were on duty at the time of the escape should be investigated: