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SA prison facilities 'not designed' to accommodate quadriplegic prisoners

Former police officer Lucky Mudau shot dead Lebohang Monene at Thembisa Hospital before turning the gun on himself last year February.
Former police officer Lucky Mudau shot dead Lebohang Monene at Thembisa Hospital before turning the gun on himself last year February.
Image: Supplied

South African correctional services facilities are not designed to provide tertiary healthcare for severely disabled inmates like former police officer Lucky Mudau.

Mudau shot nurse Lebogang Monene dead before turning the gun on himself at Thembisa Hospital in Ekurhuleni in February last year. 

She died on the scene while he suffered severe injuries, leaving him paralysed. 

Mudau was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years. 

According to correctional services spokesperson Logan Maistry, the constitution and various international instruments such as the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known as the Nelson Mandela Rules) stipulate compliance with basic human rights, limited only where justifiable and necessary, in a correctional centre environment. 

He said the department must ensure at all times that inmates, including physically challenged and/or disabled inmates, are treated as human beings entitled to all the rights of any citizen of South Africa. 

The department is mandated by the Correctional Services Act to provide primary health care to inmates.

Maistry said quadriplegics like Mudau require tertiary healthcare.

“They must be in a specialised facility. In line with section 12 of the Correctional Services Act, you need adequate resources to be able to provide tertiary healthcare and the correctional service was not designed that way.”

Quadriplegic diagnosis is a spinal cord injury which results in paralysis of both the upper and lower body. 

About 54 disabled inmates are incarcerated in South African prison facilities.

“When it comes to paraplegics, we have 43 in our facilities that we are taking care of. When it comes to hemiplegics, we have 11 of them,” Maistry said.

The acting deputy commissioner of healthcare services at the department had provided evidence during Mudau's trial that the country’s prisons were unsuitable for him.

Part of the purpose of the correctional system, Maistry said, was to enforce the sentences imposed by the courts. As such, the correctional system must at all times be aligned with the sentencing policy and the reason for the imposition of the particular sentence by the court of law. 

“International instruments define the purpose of imprisonment as being to protect society against crime not simply by removing offenders from society, but by trying to accomplish, as far as it is possible, their rehabilitation.

“This requires correctional centre administrations to achieve an appropriate balance between security and those programmes that are designed to enable inmates to reintegrate back into society.”

TimesLIVE


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