G4S denies abuse of South African prisoners


Security firm G4S Plc on Friday denied allegations by former prisoners in South Africa that members of the British group’s staff had tortured them.

A legal document seen by Reuters showed British law firm Leigh Day is representing 43 former inmates of a maximum security prison in Bloemfontein run by G4S in a civil damages claim.

The claim letter alleges that while in detention at Mongaung Correctional Centre the prisoners were electrocuted, forcibly injected with medications and racially abused by G4S staff.

G4S, which has been running the prison since 2001, denied the allegations and its spokesman said on Friday his company would defend itself against the claim.
“G4S insists on the highest standards of care and we not tolerate the mistreatment of prisoners,” spokesman Nigel Fairbass said.

The claim letter, dated Feb. 12, 2015, is addressed to the chief executive of G4S, Ashley Almanza.

No one was available to comment at Leigh Day, which is under investigation by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority over a claim that British soldiers were involved in torture and murder in Iraq.

The allegations about Mongaung first surfaced in 2013 when the journalism department of the University of Witwatersrand said it had collected 30 accounts of prisoners being abused.

The South African government took over the facility and returned it to G4S last year, saying it was satisfied the issue was resolved.

Mangaung, which houses 3,000 people, is one of only two South African prisons that are privately run. The government decided in 2010 against further public/private partnerships in prison management.