G4S weighs in on Mangaung prison judgment

British multinational security company, G4S, notes the North Gauteng High Court’s order demanding the release of the potentially damning report into the Mangaung private prison outside Bloemfontein.

OFM reports the security company has stated to OFM News that Judge Pierre Rabie’s court order is not directed at G4S, but “compels the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, to hand over a report into Mangaung prison” to the Wits University’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies (Cals) within 15 days. OFM News has over the weekend attempted to contact Masutha’s office, but spokesperson Chrispin Phiri declined to officially comment on the report.

The report in question delves into allegations, first revealed by the Wits Justice Project in 2013, of prisoners being tortured, assaulted and electro-shocked at the G4S-run maximum security prison, as well as the potential breach of contract between the parties involved. Cals has reportedly been attempting to access the report since 2015.

According to court records, “Bloemfontein Corrections Contract (BCC) was contracted by government to design, construct, operate, maintain and finance the prison” for a period of not more than 25 years. BCC, in turn, subcontracted G4S to run and maintain the prison.

Even though G4S has indicated the order is not directed at them, the security company wasn’t necessarily in favour of Cals accessing the report. In court, the British security company, represented by senior counsel Allen Liversage, contended there were records in the report in question which contain confidential information that should “not be disclosed” and as a result were opposed to the release of an unredacted version of the report.

The sensitive information included names and identifying markers of employees, inmates, nurses, doctors as well as blood sample markers. Liversage argued the release of the report in terms of sections “34, 36, 37, 38” of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) would adversely impact the lives of the people named in the report and endanger the lives of inmates.

Rabie found that G4S had failed to prove why the report should not be disclosed and ordered DCS to release the unredacted version to Cals.

In his judgment released on Friday, Rabie chastises DCS and Masutha, declaring their joint refusal to give Cals access to the information as unlawful.