Prisons accused of using solitary confinement as torture: Oversight body

Inmates reportedly spend 23 hours locked in a single cell with no human interaction, one hour in a cage for exercise with the initial period of confinement lasting up to six months at a time.

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CAPE TOWN - South Africa's prisons have been accused of practicing torture through their use of solitary confinement.

This follows a report released by the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services after a series of unannounced oversight visits to find out if and how solitary confinement was being carried out.

At Ebongweni Super Max in Kokstad, KwaZulu-Natal, and Kgosi Mampuru C-Max in Pretoria, they allegedly found shocking instances of prolonged confinement under inhumane conditions.

Inmates reportedly spend 23 hours locked in a single cell with no human interaction, one hour in a cage for exercise with the initial period of confinement lasting up to six months at a time.

Spokesperson Emerantia Cupido said while these facilities were meant to house some of the most hardened criminals, the inspectorate also found that many had been incorrectly transferred there without due process.

“Solitary confinement was employed during apartheid but our democracy correctly excises this inhumane practice. Correctional centres cannot be Constitution or law-free zones.”

Concern has also been raised around the potentially harmful mental health effects of solitary confinement.

The inspectorate was set to raise its concerns with the Department of Correctional Services.