High Court victory for Pollsmoor prisoners
The Cape Town High Court has ordered the government to draw up a comprehensive plan to address "unlawful conditions" in Pollsmoor Prison's awaiting-trial section.
Sonke Gender Justice, which took the Department of Justice and Correctional Services to court over conditions at the prison, believes the ruling over the Pollsmoor remand detention facility has set a legal precedent around the government's obligations at prison facilities and to inmates.
The report must be finalised next month.
Last year the NGO filed an application for the government to deal with overcrowding and poor conditions at the facility, which is used to house awaiting trial detainees. It said the government had failed to provide inmates with proper exercise, nutrition, accommodation, ablution facilities and healthcare.
Sonke's application included affidavits from detainees.
"The [cells] were overcrowded, with 50 or more detainees in a cell. Detainees were forced to share beds, and some could not even lie down because there was not enough space," an inmate said.
Lawyers for Human Rights attorney Clare Ballard said the court had made it clear that conditions of detention that fell short of constitutional and statutory standards required the government's attention.
Department of Correctional Services spokesman Logan Maistry saidsteps had already been taken to address overcrowding.