South Africa


Inmates argue prison food unfit for human consumption

Prisoners at Leeuwkop Maximum Prison say this is a typical meal. (Photo: Supplied by GroundUp.)

Correctional services say claims by prisoners at Leeuwkop maximum security prison are ‘nowhere near reality’.

First published by GroundUp.

“We are being fed food that doesn’t look good at all for human consumption,” a prisoner at Leeuwkop maximum security prison, Johannesburg, claimed on Tuesday.

“Sometimes, when the prison runs out of food, the management requests additional meals from nearby prisons,” he said.

Another prisoner said, “There is no sugar sometimes in the morning, or soft porridge.”

Among other complaints was that during load shedding the cells were pitch dark, prisoners didn’t have complete uniforms, and the hospital had stockouts of chronic medication. “The list is endless,” said a prisoner.

Spokesperson for the South African Prisoners’ Organization for Human Rights (SAPOHR) Golden Miles Bhudu said, “We believe our members who are prisoners.”

“[Correctional Services] cannot stop any information coming out from behind these high walls with the technology that is becoming a digital revolution,” he said.

But Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said, “This is an old fabrication by an organisation purporting to be representing inmates. We even have the images that they often share with different media houses … appealing that they cover the story. We have been clear that this is nowhere near reality.”

A prisoner at Leeuwkop sent these photos of what he claims is his meal to GroundUp via Whatsapp. (Photos: Supplied by GroundUp)

GroundUp was directly in contact with prisoners by Whatsapp video. They said they were prepared “to die for the truth”.

Emerantia Cupido, the spokesperson for Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services, said on Thursday afternoon that an investigation was prompted by photos circulating on social media.

“At the moment food at Leeuwkop is being cooked and prepared by inmates themselves. Upon our investigation, we discovered that the food is not necessarily pretty or presentable but it is palatable. We have not received any other complaints about inmates with chronic diseases being deprived of medication. We have a day-to-day team at all correctional centres and we would have been informed of such issues if they existed,” said Cupido. DM


Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 1

  • So these people thought they were heading to Hotel California but they ended up in an SA prison where some relative of the high and mighty will be making a fortune by having the food contract. Maybe it’s better not to commit the crime in the first place.

  • Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted