Inmates at Sun City prison in Johannesburg, South Africa, attempted to file a fraud complaint against staff members but claim the investigation was blocked by prison officials.
The focal point of the allegation regarded the high costs and absence of profits from the canteens used for prisoner recreation activities, according to GroundUp.org and later reprinted in the Daily Maverick newspaper.
The prison has two canteens. One is used by prison staff and the other is used by 3,000 inmates.. Inmates assert that the prison staff is charging them a 20 percent markup. Long-standing prison policy is to add five percent to the cost of items to support sports and recreation for inmates. Additionally, another five percent of total canteen profits is supposed to benefit the inmates.
Inmates argue that Section 118 of the Correctional Services Act prohibits prison officials from benefiting from inmate-generated revenue.
Lucas Mokholo, deputy chairperson of the inmates’ Participative Management Committee in Sun City, said a complaint had been filed by the inmates but that it has not been acknowledged by prison officials.
The canteen-related allegation is not the only issue being faced by Sun City. Earlier this year, inmates filed a suit claiming that their meals were sometimes distributed 20 hours apart due to staff shortages. Some days both lunch and dinner were served at 1 p.m., and they were not served another meal until the next morning.
The South Gauteng High Court rendered a judgment that meals must be spaced throughout the day urging the prison to serve “a hot meal of meat and vegetables in the evening to sustain them until breakfast the following morning.”
One inmate told GroundUp that some of their subsequent evening meals consisted of a “sachet of concentrated juice and five slices of bread.”
“In terms of the court order, the department was ordered that the interval between the last meal of the previous day and breakfast the next day should not exceed 14 hours,” the Department of Correctional Services said, ignoring the mention of meat and vegetables.
The correctional agency is required to report back to the court within 60 days to prove that it followed the court order. Additionally, the court has ordered the prison to produce full records of its profits dating back to 2011.
In response to the allegations of misappropriating canteen funds, the agency replied, “The department is not aware of any fraud allegations or a letter requesting to open a case with SAPS against correctional officials.”
The agency added, “There is no directive in the court order which requires the department to reduce prices and also not to make profits out of sales at trading points.”