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Groenpunt prison denies ill-treating media

Correctional Services denied reports they intimidated media during a visit to the prison.

Inmates stand outside the Groenpunt Prison in Deneysville in the Free State after part of the facility was set on fire on 7 January, 2013. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Correctional Services on Wednesday disputed reports of violence and intimidation of journalists by warders at the Groenpunt prison in the Free State.

Various newspapers have reported their journalists were treated badly during a visit by Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services after they captured images of an assault of a prisoner by warders.

The journalists were ordered to delete all the footage from their cameras and body searched.

The portfolio committee's Vincent Smith said the media group did not follow proper procedure.

"We agreed that no cameras would be allowed in the cells. In fact the media agreed they would not accompany the team when we did our oversight. You cannot take photos of inmates without their permission. The media broke that agreement."

Meanwhile, a journalist from The Star newspaper spoke out about how she and her colleagues felt humiliated by correctional services officials.

Kutlwano Olifant said, "I was called in by a female warder and taken into the ladies bathrooms. They searched my bag and conducted a body search on me."