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Renaming South African Prisons Not As Important As Other Issues

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, a South African correctional services minister, has suggested renaming eleven jails throughout the country, including Barberton, Pollsmoor, Modimolle, Johannesburg, Pretoria Central, and St Albans. Mapisa-Nqakula hopes that the new names could honour freedom fighters who were imprisoned during apartheid.

However, Lukas Muntingh, project co-ordinator for the Civil Society and Prison Reform Initiative, replied that it was inappropriate to invest time and money into renaming where more pressing matters in the prisons required attention first.

Muntingh pointed out that the the inadequate accommodation, poor prisoner safety, and lack of prosecution for officials who are found guilty of something, are more severe challenges that need to be dealt with first.

“The best way to inspire a culture of human rights and adherence to it is for it to be demonstrated through the behaviour of officials and the services rendered in prisons – and that will not happen with a name change.” he said.

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