Jails’ ‘Boko Haram reign of terror’

Warders at Kgosi Mampuru Prison, who have been labelled Boko Haram, are likely to face criminal investigation by the SAPS in connection with allegations of physical abuses and torture of inmates.

The implicated warders were accused of terrorising the inmates inside their cells during the night by severely beating them with tonfas (batons).

Clare Ballards, an attorney working for Lawyers for Human Rights, is in the process of writing a report detailing the gruesome death of an inmate and alleged abuses of some inmates by some warders.

She wanted her report to form part of the police investigation of the alleged conduct of some warders nicknamed “Boko Haram”, after the Nigerian Islamist terrorist group.

One of the inmates Ricky Mokoena (56) died last July after he was allegedly beaten up by the warders in prison.

He was detained at G1 Section number 11 and was serving a murder sentence at the time of his death.

Ballards will submit her report to the police in a few days and wants it to be used as a basis for criminal investigations against the implicated warders. She said the case about Mokoena’s death was on trial and that four inmates who witnessed the incident had been victimised by some warders in prison.

According to her, there had been eight cases of severe beating of inmates reported to the Lawyers for Human Rights. More shocking details of blatant abuses in prison are contained in a letter penned by some inmates.

In the letter, which the Pretoria News has seen, the inmates shed light about some cases of abuse involving inmates at the facility. According to the letter, some offenders had suffered brain damage and kidney problems due to the repeated abuse by the “Boko Haram”. Previous efforts by the inmates to complain to the head of correctional services had fallen on deaf ears, they claimed.

Inmates said the warders would use the master keys to enter the cells under the pretence that they there conducting searches. Warders would beat up the inmates for no apparent reason and left them reeling in pain.

We have been left in the lurch as far as Mr Mokoena’s case is concerned.

“The warders who assaulted Mr Mokoena to death are still on duty carrying on assaulting other inmates with tonfas chokes and spraying them, they said.

They have called for a commission of inquiry into the conduct of the warders and the facility because it was always on the news for wrong reasons.

Ballards said she would like the accused warders to be subjects of police investigation for allegedly beating up the inmates at the cell.

Gauteng Correctional Services spokesman Ofentse Morwane said the department viewed the allegations in a serious light.

He said the acting regional commissioner for Gauteng Mandla Mkabela had appointed a team of investigators comprising managers from other facilities in the region to investigate the matter.

Regarding Mokoena’s death, he said the case was investigated and the outcome showed that he died of natural causes.

Date of publication: 
6 November 2015
Pretoria News