18 September 2017

South Africa: Is Ebongweni C-Max Prison Living Up to Its Promises?


Prison violence, the disruptive behaviour of some inmates, high numbers of escapes in the 1990s and a public demand to be tough on crime led the South African government to replicate the American approach of dealing with very violent and dangerous offenders: building two super-maximum security prisons, at great cost to the taxpayer. The first one, C-Max, is located within Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre in Pretoria and is closed for renovations. The second one, Ebongweni (outside Kokstad in Kwa-Zulu Natal), is a stand-alone prison with a capacity to house 1,440 inmates, all in single cells. It started operating in 2002. A solution was needed to deal with our most violent offenders. But was the policy choice of these super-maximum prisons the most adequate one? By GWEN DEREYMAEKER.

Ebongweni C-Max prison in Kokstad, KwaZulu-Natal, is meant to house inmates who have exhibited consistent disruptive behaviour and are regarded as particularly dangerous and violent. However, it is unclear whether the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has clear policy criteria to decide who should be transferred there. Today, Ebongweni holds about 900 inmates, or 0.5% of South Africa's prison population. The vast majority are sentenced adult males. Well-known inmates who were or are...

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