- JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -
South African prison gangs are using HIV infection as punishment, ordering
gang members carrying the AIDS virus to rape disobedient inmates in a ritual
known as "slow puncture," officials said Thursday.
- A spokesman for the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons
confirmed that the new practice first came to light about six months ago
and was believed to be spreading.
- The inspectorate's director Gideon Morris told a government
commission on Wednesday that the rape would be carried out by one person,
or sometimes several.
- "They give him a 'slow puncture', meaning he will
die over a period of time," Morris said. "It's a new phenomenon."
- South Africa has the highest number of people living
with HIV in the world, with about 4.8 million people, or one in nine of
the country's population of 42 million, infected with the virus which causes
- Morris' testimony on the ritual was put before the Jali
Commission, an inquiry board set up last year to look into allegations
of corruption and mismanagement in South Africa's prison network.
- Department of Corrections spokesman Russel Mamabolo said
department officials could not comment, and would await the commission's
findings before mounting their own investigation.
- "This information is still allegations at this stage,"
- The opposition Democratic Alliance issued a statement
Thursday calling on the government to provide all prisons with anti-retroviral
drugs to treat HIV infections -- in part to reduce health costs.
- "At the very least, prisoners who are raped should
have access to anti-retroviral treatment to prevent them from getting infected
with the HIV virus. However, it also makes sense to prevent HIV-positive
prisoners from developing full-blown AIDS," said Mike Ellis, the party's
spokesman for correctional services.
- The South African government has been criticized for
its reluctance to provide universal access to anti-retrovirals, citing
safety and cost grounds.
- Morris said it was difficult to say whether AIDS was
now the chief cause of death in South African prisons, noting that many
prisoners who die of AIDS are listed as dying of natural causes.
- He did note, however, that the number of inmates dying
of natural causes in jail has risen sharply over the past seven years,
jumping from 186 in 1995 to 1,169 last year.
- South Africa currently has about 179,000 people in prison,
making it second only to the United States in the number of inmates per
- From Jan Lamprecht
Southern Africa in Crisis AfricanCrisis.Org
- Note - A new comprehensive AIDS report has come out.
40% of all deaths in the country are caused by AIDS. Some propagandists
try to portray this as a good thing, since accidents, etc, kill more people
than AIDS. They are trying to pretend that AIDS has little effect. THE
CITIZEN newspaper however said that all the statistics prove that the "AIDS
war is being lost". The following article is an example of what is
happening in our overcrowded prisons. If we had work gangs and those prisoners
were working their butts off all day long they wouldn't have time for nonsense
like this. Anyway, we need the death sentence in this country. Violent
crime is out of control. Just yesterday we were treated on national TV
to film footage showing some black robbers shooting a black man in the
chest while stealing his car. The victim died. What a disgusting state
of affairs. This country is run like a cesspool. -- Jan