The African National Congress is starting its “dispute resolution process” in a bid to address the a.
Correctional Services director-general Jenny Schreiner has admitted in Parliament that prison officials who locked a female prisoner in a male cell for six months were grossly negligent.
Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is facing a lawsuit from former prisoner Amaravathee Wilson, who says she was raped and sodomised every day for six months after being locked up in Durban Westville's male prison.
The mother of five told Sowetan last month that her nightmare started when prison officials refused to believe that she was a woman. Instead, they locked her up with men while she was awaiting trial.
The prison staff apparently refused to believe that her nickname was Denise and called her Denis instead.
Schreiner told Parliament yesterday that the mistake should never have happened.
This was an about-turn from statements made last month by KwaZulu-Natal regional prisons commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele, who said "this woman was not a victim as she claims".
Nxele said Wilson had told prison officials she was a transvestite who wanted to be locked up with men.
Wilson denied this.
Schreiner said all prisoners' fingerprints are taken and they were stripped and searched before being admitted.
This process makes it easy for prison officials to identify errors such as having a female prisoner in a male prison cell .
But she said that "abuse has happened in many cases, like during the transportation of prisoners from one center to another. It might be difficult to do detailed checks when we admit large numbers of people".
Members of Parliament slammed Schreiner's explanation. The ANC's Florence Ngwenya said Wilson's ordeal was "hurting, disturbing and disappointing".
DA MP Fritz Albert said it was "frightening that the policy sounds perfect but it is not followed".
But Schreiner refused to comment further until the court case - which takes place on May 12 in Durban - was complete.
Wilson referred queries to her attorney, Shereen Soobrathi, who could not immediately comment.