The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said the Correctional Services department is undermining state security by allowing private and foreign companies to run and control some of the country’s prisons.
This follows a confirmation by the department that the man dubbed the ‘Facebook rapist’, Thabo Bester, escaped from the Mangaung Prison in Bloemfontein in May last year.
Mangaung Prison is contracted to private security company, G4S.
Bester, who was serving a life sentence for murder and a series of rape charges had been declared dead after his prison cell caught fire. However, DNA sequencing done on a woman identified as Bester’s mother did not match that of the burnt body in the prison cell.
Popcru spokesperson, Richard Mamabolo said private companies running the country’s prisons are more focused on making profit than rehabilitating inmates.
“These private companies have a disregard for human rights. Aside from the moral and ethical arguments about prison privatization, there is ample operational evidence that the policy itself is flawed. The fact that the human rights dimension of private prisons has not been fully examined, is a dereliction of duty.”
Meanwhile, national police commissioner Fannie Masemola said investigations surrounding Bester’s prison escape are high on their priority list.
Masemola said a manhunt has since been launched to locate Bester’s whereabouts.
“And this is done in the best interest of justice for the victims, survivors, and the affected families. Detectives from the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit and the organized crime investigations units in the Free State and Gauteng provinces have been working together around the clock on this investigation,” said police spokesperson Athlenda Mathe.
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