Bloemfontein – The Mangaung prison in the Free State, run by the beleaguered multinational private security company G4S, is once again under the spotlight. According to sources, a 12-month investigation has revealed prisoners are given medicine against their will as well as using electroshocks against prisoners.
The prison has been described as a private hell by inmates as well as those working in the prison. A lot of video footage has been discovered showing the inhumane treatment the prisoners have had to endure. Lucas Tsheole, an inmate at Mangaung prison, has seen it all since he was transferred to the prison in 2012.
“I have seen it all. In terms of the brutality of inmates, the mistreatment of employees by the employer. Some of the instances are that there are no limitations here in Mangaung prison. They prioritise monopoly capital. The inmates are only involved in programmes to present a clean image. When there is a visitor, it must look like there is some sort of development going on. They sit there for a long time not learning anything.”
Mangaung prison has a huge budget but nothing to show for it
According to Tsheole, Mangaung receives R552 million per annum from the state. However, if one visits the prison, it is hard to see where any of that money goes. Prisoners are not being taught any useful skills and the money is not being put in the prison to help them in any way.
“Mangaung gets R552 million per annum but there is nothing to show what they are doing. Many of us in this facility are just idling on a daily basis because there is no program that keeps us busy. This results in inmates turning to unlawful activities and committing violence. There is proof of what I am talking about.”
The use of medication and electroshocks
The videos that have surfaced show inmates being held down and forced to take antipsychotic medication in an attempt to subdue them. The videos also show inmates protesting these medications shouting that they are not animals. Tsheole confirmed these incidents are true and do take place in the prison.
“These methods are being used to intimidate inmates so that there must not be activism against this tyrannical system. Inmates who are responding to this tyrannical system are being isolated to a separate unit. That is where inmates are being tortured … That unit you will be taken there and brutally shocked. You will be injected with that medication.
According to Tsheole, there is a special gun used to shoot the medication into an inmate. Once the medication is taken, an inmate behaves “like a zombie for five to seven months”. The electric shocks are used to intimidate inmates. Although it is only supposed to be used during emergency situations, it is used freely on inmates. Tsheole has also been one of the inmates who have been electroshocked.
For Tsheole, even though these actions have been carrying on since 2013, when the Mail & Guardian first reported on it, he is hopeful this time things will change. He is hopeful the story will not die down and some action will be taken in order to stop the atrocities that are occurring.