On 10 August 2014 five inmates at Leeuwkop Maximum Correctional Centre were beaten, assaulted and tortured by DCS officials. Llewellyn Smith, Xolani Zulu, Benson Qibi, Abel Phasha and Mthokozisi Sithole sustained severe physical and psychological injuries as a result.

The beatings were precipitated by Mr Zulu, the second plaintiff, jamming the cell door with a toothbrush, thus preventing it from being opened by officials. He did this in protest against the unlawful blanket removal of privileges from all of the residents of Cell B1 and the officials’ refusal to grant him an audience with senior management at Leeuwkop in an attempt to resolve the unfair treatment meted out to the members of Cell B1.

The five plaintiffs, represented by Lawyers for Human Rights are suing the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services for the severe and ongoing damages they sustained as a result of torture.

On 28 October the hearing, set down for 15 days, commenced. The Court will hear expert evidence from forensic pathologists, doctors, psychiatrists and use of force experts. This case is the first to rely on the recently domesticated offence of torture which incorporates the definition of torture from the Convention against Torture, ratified by the South African government in July 1998.

For further inquires: Clare Ballard (attorney of record), clare [at] lhr [dot] org [dot] za