We are being starved, say prisoners

Riot Hlatshwayo

Convicted and awaiting trial prisoners locked in the holding cells of the Nelspruit magistrate's court in Mpumalanga are left without food for the whole day.

An investigation by Sowetan this week revealed that a large number of convicted and awaiting trial prisoners, who were collected from various police stations around Nelspruit, were locked up from 7.30am to 4pm without being fed.

On Wednesday eight awaiting trial prisoners, who spoke from the holding cells of the Nelspruit magistrate's court, complained that they had not eaten since being locked up in the morning.

An awaiting trial prisoner, who declined to give his name, at Nelspruit police station said it was routine to starve convicted and awaiting trial prisoners.

"It is now after 4pm and we have not eaten since we were brought here at 7.30am. Even guilty people have access to food. We have still not been proven guilty but we are already being starved," said the prisoner.

Convicted prisoners, who were brought from various prisons to face further charges, said they were also not given food.

"We eat very well in prison but are starved here. You must pass this message to President Thabo Mbeki because I don't think he is aware of this," said a convicted prisoner who also refused to reveal his identity.

According to the provincial police standing rules, prisoners are expected to be fed at least three times a day.

Spokesman Superintendent Abie Khoabane said yesterday he was not aware of the situation at the Nelspruit police station.

"We are the best institution when it comes to making sure that human rights are implemented. We feed the prisoners three times a day according to the standing procedure," he said.