Raped inmate sues prison

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SUNDAY TRIBUNE MARCH 4 2012

10 NEWS

Jail torture

Tutu art book to raise funds for SA pupils
WENDYL MARTIN
IT MAY seem to be an unlikely collaboration, but Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and acclaimed SA artist Paul du Toit are making it work, turning out a one-of-a-kind art book that will go under the hammer to raise funds for charity in New York later this month. The 18-page book features five handwritten quotes by the Nobel Peace Prize winner, displayed alongside woodcut prints by Du Toit. It is to be auctioned at The Lunchbox Fund Bookfair, along with other hand-made books that were created by personalities as diverse as Salman Rushdie with artist Francesco Clemente, Sting, Sir Ben Kingsley photogra, pher Bob Gruen and Yoko Ono, Hugh Masekela, Tony Bennet and Deepak Chopra. The Lunchbox Fund, founded by New York-based SA model Topaz Page-Green, is an organisation dedicated to feeding high school pupils in SA townships.

Engraved
The prints were made with woodcuts and linocuts that Du Toit engraved. The 13 cuts were then painted for the prints, and the project completed with master print maker Ruth Lingen. Du Toit will see the complete bound book for the first

Artwork by Paul du Toit, far right, in collaboration with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Pictures: CANDICE CHAPLIN

time when he returns to New York for the auction. ”When I was finished, I felt drained. I asked myself, did I really do this?” All the books will be displayed together at Pace Prints in New York from March 6 to 10. “I hope whoever gets this book understands the historical value, and donates it to a museum,” Du Toit said. A bronze sculpture of Mandela’s hand that Du Toit

made once fetched $3.5 million (R26.3m). Tutu said he did not think the book would raise as much as the Mandela hand, as he is “nowhere near in the same league as Madiba”. “Don’t be surprised that I don’t remember writing this, given my age,” he chuckled. “(But) the proceeds are being used to benefit those less fortunate than us. I mean, what other reason do you want?”

CAROLYN RAPHAELY

W

HEN Bradley McCallum, a tattooed and toothless inmate of Port Elizabeth’s St Alban’s prison, was beaten and raped with a baton by a warder, no one could have predicted the propensity of the slightly built prisoner to fight back. “I decided enough is enough,” he recalled. “I thought: ‘I’m going to stand up for myself as a prisoner and a human being. I don’t care what happens as long as people know how I’ve been treated’.” McCallum, 32, didn’t suffer alone. His rape was part of a prison-wide orgy of mass-beatings, assault and torture by about 50 warders in retribution for the murder of fellow-warder Babini Nqakula – a relative of then-minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqakula, husband of Minister of Correctional Services Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. “A warder shoved a baton up my anus and said: ‘Where’s your knife? You can put it in your bank account, we’ll take it out with interest’,” McCallum said. “When I tried to crawl away he trampled on my back , forcing me to lie face-down on the floor. I felt like trash…” Now Egon Oswald, a lawyer operating a one-man practice from an old house in Port Elizabeth, is suing the Minister of Correctional Services for damages on behalf of McCallum and 230 other prisoners. It is probably the largest damages claim yet instituted against the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). Hopefully, this will draw attention to the excessive use of violence by officials in SA prisons. Surprisingly after McCal, lum lodged a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) in Geneva and won his 2010 case, Bradley McCallum vs SA, no one seemed to notice or even care, least of all SA, which ignored six requests by the UN to

RAPED INMATE SUES PRISON
St Alban’s warders’ mass torture went unreported until one prisoner decided he’d had enough
People were terrified ... blood was running down the walls Bradley McCallum
also female warders who walked over us, kicked us in our genitals and mocked us about our private parts. And there were dogs. “People were terrified. The warders beat us with batons, shock-boards, broomsticks, pool-cues and pick-axe handles. “As a result of the electricshock shields and the terror, the prisoners were p****** and s******* on themselves and on each other. “Blood was literally running down those prison walls.” Then the inmates were told to run into their cell. In the ensuing chaos, they fell over each other, slipped and tripped on the floor which was covered in water, urine, faeces and blood. “There were people with Aids, TB, diabetes, sick people, old people. The warders didn’t care,” McCallum said. Initially, Oswald found McCallum’s story hard to believe. But when complaints flooded in, he realised it was true. “Every one of these guys suffered injuries. They had bruises, blunt-force contusions, dog-bites, broken limbs; they’d



Seeking justice: Lawyer Egon Oswald, left, and former prisoner Bradley McCallum.
respond to McCallum’s allegations. “This matter is by no means over,” said Oswald, a quietly spoken former commercial lawyer who was voted Human Rights Lawyer of the year by the Cape Law Society in 2011. “It’s a matter of principle. The rule of law must be upheld and public officials held accountable.” Released on parole in 2010, McCallum still recalls the July 2005 attacks in detail: “I was lying on my bed on a Sunday morning when I heard Warder P shouting: ‘Julle naaiers, julle ma se p***, hardloop uit!’” (You f***, come running out!) He hit me on the arm with his baton. Then he hit me on the head. All the time, he was shouting ‘Tronk naaier, tronk bitch!’ (Jail f***, jail bitch), grabbing my shirt and kicking me. “We were forced to run naked down the corridor through a tunnel of warders who hit us while we were running and sprayed us with water. They were swearing and screaming: ‘Today you’re going to die!’ Then they forced us to lie on the wet floor in a long human chain – about 70 prisoners from my section. Each inmate had their nose in the arse of the person in front of them. If you turned to look up, they kicked you in the face with an army boot. There were

been electrocuted and were psychologically traumatised.” McCallum, for one, still carries scars. After the beatings, he had a dislocated jaw, head wounds, a damaged arm and flashbacks, and lost his teeth. He said the inmates were denied medical help for a month. In desperation, they attempted to treat themselves by burning toilet paper and covering their wounds with sand and ash. Concerned about HIV infection from other inmates’ bodily fluids, McCallum was also denied HIV testing and other basic privileges such as phone, exercise, access to legal representation and his family . Yet when he complained to the authorities and anyone else he thought might listen, no disciplinary action was taken against the perpetrators and no criminal sanction followed. After all oversight mechanisms failed and the State claimed McCallum had not made his statutory demand within a stipulated six-month period, Oswald approached the UNHRC on his behalf. At the UNHRC’s 100th sitting, South Africa was found to have violated its obligations in terms of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. SA had also flouted the provisions of its own constitution, violated the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Robben Island Guidelines. The SA Human Rights Commission’s Judith Cohen said: “This is a peremptory norm that binds all states, whether they’ve signed the international instruments or not.”

SA was instructed to investigate McCallum’s claims, prosecute those responsible and provide a remedy and information about measures taken within 180 days. In October 2011, Correctional Services finally issued a media statement, but ignored the UNHRC’s request to publish its findings. The following month, driven by what he describes as “a total antipathy to the abuse of power”, Oswald brought a successful High Court application compelling discovery of all documents relating to inmates’ complaints. Correctional Services spokesman Sonwabo Mbananga said: “The alleged incident happened before the minister’s appointment. When she first became aware of the matter in September last year, she immediately instructed the department to re-open an investigation into the matter.” Meantime, as Cohen points out, SA is not notching up a good reporting record at international level. For example, SA’s report to the Committee Against Torture has been outstanding since 2009: “The fact that SA was asked to respond to the UN and repeatedly ignored the requests is indicative of how seriously SA regards its international obligations.” What’s more, the 2010/11 Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) report noted a “disconcerting trend” of deaths implicating officials who employed “unnecessary force in instances where the inmate posed little or no threat to safety”. Since neither DCS nor JICS provide torture statistics in their annual reports, it’s diffi-

cult to assess its prevalence in SA’s 241 jails. Moreover, torture is often unreported. “People in prison don’t stand up for their rights; they don’t even know they have rights,” McCallum noted. Though prison officials are supposed to use “minimum force” to quell violence, the use of electric-shock belts, stunshields, stun-batons and legirons appears widespread. Perhaps the fact St Alban’s warders believed they could assault and torture inmates with impunity is understandable – SA has no legislation criminalising torture even though it’s outlawed by the constitution. “ the moment, if perpetraAt tors are brought before a criminal court they’ll be charged with a common law crime like assault, culpable homicide or murder,” Cohen explained. The local representative of the Geneva-based Association for the Prevention of Torture, Amanda Dissel, believes that “a crime of torture would assist the authorities to recognise acts of torture and initiate proper investigations of torture with the diligence, impartiality and competence required by international law”. “How the St Alban’s case happened and how we prevent it happening in the future is what matters,” said Cohen. “This isn’t just about McCallum, it’s about what went wrong. There are more McCallums out there and there’ll be more in the future…” ‚óŹ Carolyn Raphaely, the current Webber Wentzel legal journalist of the year, is a member of the Wits Justice Project which investigates miscarriages of justice.

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Couple smash Houdini’s record
JUNIOR BESTER
THE record for an upsidedown escape attempt, set 87 years ago by the legendary Harry Houdini, has been smashed – in Cape Town. Hanging suspended by their ankles 25m above the V&A Waterfront on Friday, American couple Wayne Houchin, 29, and his wife Frania, 26, took the record time of two minutes and 12 seconds to free themselves from their straitjackets. Escape artist Houdini set the original record of three minutes in 1925, suspended from a crane used to build the New York City subway . The Houchins, from Chico in California, trumped hundreds of escape artists who have, over the decades, attempted to beat Houdini’s time. And Friday marked not only a new record, but also the first time the feat had been attempted on the continent. Houchin said afterwards: “It was absolutely amazing and frightening at the same time. This has been our first attempt at the record, and to do it is just amazing.” He added that while his attempt to break the record had been a long time in the planning, his wife had surprised him with her decision to join in, because she is

Wayne Houchin and his wife Frania, above and left, celebrate after performing Africa’s first dual upside down straitjacket escape while hanging 25m above the ground.

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terrified of heights. She said: “This was such a big personal challenge for me as I am terrified of heights. I could not even go on the big wheel here at the Waterfront.” The couple began by strapping themselves into straitjackets. They were then strapped by the ankles to hooks on two cranes, before being hoisted 25m into the air. Once in position, the clock began to tick. And a small crowd watched their wriggling bodies overhead. The soaring temperatures added to the drama, with the straitjackets upping the body temperatures of the two. Houchin said: “We

practised at home by hanging ourselves from a very low height just to get used to hanging upside down. “This helped us, yet at this height there are psychological problems with looking down and seeing how high you actually are.” The pair are in SA to attend the SA National Magic Championships, taking place today at Artscape in Cape Town. The event is among a series of similar events across the world aimed at identifying various countries’ best magicians. The winners will take part in the world championships in Blackpool, England, in July .

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