‘Cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment’ allegedly meted out to Phoenix awaiting trial inmates

Report by the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services includes allegations of the rape of a juvenile and the death of another by officials of the Department of Correctional Services

Phoenix awaiting trial inmates, arrested and charged with murder during the July 2021 looting in KwaZulu-Natal, were acquitted in the Verulam Regional Court on murder charges.

Published Dec 6, 2023

Share

ALLEGATIONS of ‘cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment’ of a group of Phoenix unrest trial inmates has been detailed in a report by the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS).

The report includes allegations of the rape of a juvenile and the death of another by officials of the Department of Correctional Services.

The Phoenix awaiting trial inmates were arrested and charged with murder during the July 2021 looting in KwaZulu-Natal.

As part of the investigation by the JICS, the Phoenix awaiting trial inmates alleged that when they were admitted at the Durban correctional facility on August 23, 2021, "officials on duty degraded them, spat on them and incited and instigated other inmates present that they were the people from Phoenix who killed rioters".

This week, Christopher Pillay and Mehmood Khan told the POST about the horror of being incarcerated at Westville Prison for eight months, and how their arrest had turned their lives upside down.

They were acquitted in the Verulam Regional Court on murder charges. The charges of attempted murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances were abandoned.

Pillay and Khan reported their alleged abuse and mistreatment to the JICS.

Pillay said: "On the day of my arrest, I was returning home after dinner with my 12-year-old son and my wife. As we drove onto the road leading to our home, three vehicles with bright lights stopped us. Police officers with high powered firearms came to our vehicle. My wife and son were hysterical and began screaming. The police started searching my vehicle for weapons but found nothing. I was in shock."

Pillay said his life went downhill from there.

Khan said: "I ran a business making and selling samoosas to support my wife and myself but after my imprisonment, I lost all my customers and my income. Nobody trusts me anymore." 

Get your copy of the POST for the full story.