Monday, April 30, 2007

The Scandal of Prisons in South Africa

Our prison system is a shambles. But if we think our criminal justice system is bad, just thank God you don't live in South Africa. Click HERE to read how ex-criminals are clamouring to get back into South African jails. They can't get work and many of them can't get free AIDS treatment on the outside.
They said that they faced the stark choice of resorting to crime to feed
themselves and their families - or simply going back to prison. "I cannot feed
myself as there is no work," said Amos, a convicted thief."Like most prisoners I
am suffering from Aids and I can't get the free treatment I got inside. I really
don't want to return to crime but the only alternative for me is to go back to
prison."Others cited the onset of the southern hemisphere winter for their
desire to return to the cells. "In the summer, I can sleep outside," said Sipho,
a car thief. "It is too cold in winter. In prison there may be too many people
but at least it is warm and we get hot meals."

15 comments:

yellerKat said...

So much better in the rest of former British Africa, of course.

you live and you learn said...

It seems that most South Africans, of all colours, were better off under the Boers.

What's more, the situation in South Africa will only get worse as Mbeki and co turn the country into a bigger version of Zimbabwe.

Steven_L said...

I have a friend who writes to Brits in third world prisons. If the RSA made their prisons more like Thailand, made them sleep 30 to a room on straw and fed them fish-head stew, less people there would turn to crime.

Having a situation where prison is nicer than life on the outside is silly. Perhaps they shopuld bring back the bullwhip.

verity said...

Singapore administers the rotan. That ensures a one-time only residency in Changi.

John Hirst said...

I know that he is no longer the President, but surely Nelson cannot be turning a blind eye to this?

Tim said...

Outrageous! Criminals get free treatment but law abiding citizens don't? It should be the other way round!

If prisoners want to go back to prison it's clearly not acting as a punishment or a deterrent and should be made harsher.

jailhouselawyer said...

Don't know why the above post did not come out as JHL, been messing around with blogspot, is this any better?

wrinkled weasel said...

I wonder whether anybody is going to blame us "imperialists" for this one? Surely they must be able to find a link to our colonisation of Africa when it comes to blaming us for AIDS and criminality in the continent?

verity said...

The rotan is so painful that they strap on special pads to protect the kidneys of the prisoner. Also, they only administer (I think) six strokes max at a time (it may be fewer). So if someone is sentenced to eight strokes, he has a couple of months during healing to remember the horrifying pain he suffered with the first six strokes, and contemplate the final two.

Makes for many a sleepless night. But heigh-ho ... the punishment fits the crime.

plankton said...

Maybe this country should adopt the use of the rotan. Particularly in the cases of axe wielding killers of elderly women.

I believe that this would have possibly modified the belligerent attitudes and lack of contrition shown by those have enjoyed their time as a guest of Her Majesty.

verity said...

Plankton - You are correct. In Singapore, they don't have repeat prisoners.

The rotan is a long (so it can be swished with great force) hearty bamboo. The perp is strapped, face down, on a kind of surgical table, and protective pads are applied to his kidneys. Then he gets the full force of the strokes the court has chosen to mete out for his crime. If deemed to be too much in one go, he is allowed to recover for a couple of weeks before getting the next go.

The Chinese are not merciful people, which may be why, by and large, their societies are law-abiding. Let's just say "human rights" don't keep them awake at night.

This is why you can walk around Singapore at any time of the day or night and civil society reigns.

verity said...

Oh, Plankton, I didn't mean to suggest that murderers get the rotan in Singapore!

Singapore has its head screwed on right, so to speak. After appeals, if they are still guilty, after sifting through all the evidence once more, they get the rope. Friday. Dawn. Announced in a little announcement in the Straits Times. For the record.

In Singapore, it's very important to remember not to murder anyone.

PJ said...

I think that the fact that people find life more comfortable inside than out is more because life in South Africa is crappy for blacks who haven't been helped by the government they elected, rather than because the prisons are particularly lenient.

machiavelli said...

if you think that's bad, try the prisons in Brazil...

The Remittance Man said...

Hey, Iain, it's not just an SA problem. Back in the late eighties I worked for a contracting firm that did work for HM Prisons. For my sins I got to spend eight hours a day inside one of Her Maj's nicks and came to know some of the officers quite well.

According to them a lot of overcrowding then was caused by down and outs and other homeless types deliberately committing some offense or other just so they could go back inside. This phenomenon was especially marked during autumn.

Still, things are pretty bad in SA. But PJ ought to remember that the vast majority of the impoverished poor do NOT commit crime. Sure poverty may ease the passage of honest men into dishonest ways but in no way is it a universal excuse. Indeed if one believes the reports coming out of black areas, ordinary blacks are even more frustrated at the level crime. They do however tend to do something about it - the infamous "necklace" hasn't gone away, it's use just isn't ideologically newsworthy anymore.