Popcru president lambasts SA’s criminal justice system

The president of Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) Zizamele Cebekhulu-Makhaza has lambasted the country’s criminal justice system.

Cebekhulu-Makhaza was addressing the media during a round-table session held in Pretoria on Wednesday.

The session came after the arrest of Thabo Bester in Tanzania over a week ago.

Bester, his lover Dr Nandipha Magudumana and a Mozambican national were nabbed while trying to cross the border into Kenya after Bester had escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in May 2022, where he was serving a life sentence for rape and murder.

Cebekhulu-Makhaza said the escape exposed how flawed the country’s crime-fighting machinery is, including the criminal justice system, police, courts and correctional facilities.

He further said since the escape surfaced, people in higher positions of power have been shifting the blame instead of admitting that the whole system is failing.

“We cannot move it to Justice Department Minister Ronald Lamola because this is not an individual matter, the government and its system is ineffective,” said Cebekhulu-Makhaza.

“As the regulator, they should have told us that Bester escaped, but they kept protecting their eye and insisting that he was still in jail.

“Now we want to know about the body, how he got out and and how the body ended up inside their facilities without them knowing.”

He shared how contracts with the G4S was kept a secret, noting that all private prisons in South Africa are of no help. 

“These people are not interested in rehabilitation but are after making profits. Why are the contracts in private prisons a secret? They don’t want to talk about it. We don’t even know if the contracted companies comply with the laws of this country.”


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