PRESS STATEMENT | Closing arguments in prison torture case in the Johannesburg High Court today

Date: 02/08/2022

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and Webber Wentzel will be back in the Johannesburg High Court at 10:00am today, Tuesday 2 August 2022, for the commencing of closing arguments on behalf of five plaintiffs who were allegedly tortured at the Leeuwkop Maximum Correctional Centre (Leeuwkop). The trial, which commenced in 2019 and was delayed multiple times during the COVID-19 pandemic will finally conclude during the week of 2 August 2022.

In August 2014 the plaintiffs, all of whom were incarcerated at Leeuwkop at the time, were brutally tortured by Department of Correctional Services officials. In 2015, the plaintiffs instituted action against the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services (“the Minister”), in his capacity as the employer of prison officials at Leeuwkop for the extensive physical and psychological injuries and suffering caused by the torture carried out by DCS officials. REDRESS, an international NGO that works on behalf of survivors of torture, has been admitted as a friend of the court.

This matter is the first of its kind in South Africa. The Court will have to consider intentional state conduct relating to the elements of the crime of torture under the Prevention of Combating and Torture of Persons Act, 2013. A successful outcome will be precedent setting and is vital as it requires the court to consider South Africa’s clear, binding international treaty obligations that we are obliged to respect and uphold in respect of protection against torture. Most importantly, it is a case that highlights the right to human dignity, the right to freedom and security of person, and the right to redress.

Nabeelah Mia, Head of the Penal Reform Programme states that “our clients have been waiting for almost eight years to reach this point. We hope that this matter will see the beginning of accountability of figures of authority for the crime of torture. There can be no end to torture without it being adequately addressed by sanction and adequate redress for victims. It is important that a spotlight be shone by the NGO sector and human rights activists upon unlawful conduct in the treatment of prisoners”.

For more information, please contact:

Nabeelah Mia (Lawyers for Human Rights), Email:

Moray Hathorn (Webber Wentzel), Email:


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