The Wits Justice Project (WJP) is looking for an intern with a journalism background, from June 2014.

Remuneration: Competitive monthly stipend
Education level: Degree
Job level: Intern
Type: 6-month contract with option to renew once
Commence: June 2014

Wits Justice Project:
The Wits Justice Project (WJP) is a project of the Journalism Department of the University of Witwatersrand. It aims to impact significantly on the lives of people by striving for changes in the criminal justice system.

Through the four arms of the project – journalism, advocacy, law and education – WJP strives to bring substantial changes to the law and its practice and the wider criminal justice system as a whole. It uses transparent activism to promote the foundational values enshrined in the South African Constitution and international and Human Rights law.

- A journalism degree from an accredited University
- A keen interest in human rights
- Contactable references and proof of previous work

- Proven ability to carry out journalistic research and investigations,
and to be able to produce from that compelling media products
Social Media and web site management experience

Job Description
As an intern you will be required to:
- Produce regular social media including blogs, tweets, Facebook posts
- Investigate and research, identify and interview and produce journalist products (including written
news reports, in-depth pieces, radio and tv inserts and photographs)
- Build a relationship with journalists and editors
- Be willing to visit prisons, courts and police stations from time to time
- Be willing to interview inmates
- Evaluate and respond to correspondence from inmates
- Carry out various office administration tasks
- Be willing to assist with a variety of project including organising events and seminars
- Work as a member of a small, hard-working, team which is passionate about human rights

Send a full CV by 30 April 2014 to
Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi
Project Coordinator
Wits Justice Project
Tel: +27-11-717-4077
Fax: +27-86-765-6601


Ghana:Lawyer Urges Prisoners To Sue The State


According to WorldNews.com, A private practitioner, Professor Ken Attafuah has advised inmates at various prisons in the country to sue the state for dehumanizing conditions they are subjected to.
It was revealed that about 700 inmates crammed at the facility queue to attend nature’s call in three water closets, which had water hardly running through them. Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and chicken pox were a common sight at the place.
Sharing his thought on how to improve the prison conditions on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Tuesday, Prof Ken Attafuah mentioned that the appalling conditions violated not only the inmates’ dignity but their human dignity as a whole.
He cited several home grown and international provisions, like Article 15 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right, which frown on the kind of conditions at the country’s prisons.


In condemning successive governments’ piecemeal approach to dealing with the deplorable conditions, Prof. Attafuah, who is Acting Dean of Central University Law School told inmates, “you can sue the republic for subjecting you to such conditions…the Supreme Court upheld in case after case, that, socio-economic rights were justifiable and that you could sue (but) the attitude of the court is another matter.”

Read more here:
Lawyer Urges Prisoners To Sue The State
Understanding Prison Law and The Rights of Prisoners
Wrongfully convicted man urges state to pay

Broken beyond imagination: South Africa’s justice system

pistorius for blog





A report by senior journalist, Ruth Hopkins
Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial, dubbed the trial of the century, has hogged the limelight since he was arrested for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year. The courtroom in the Pretoria High Court has become the focal point of the world’s media. Pistorius’ lawyer Barry Roux stole the show when he impressed both friend and foe by tenaciously laying bare inconsistencies in witnesses’ testimonies, narrowing in on forensic evidence incorrectly secured by officers at the crime scene and challenging the state’s version of events. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has contested the defence’s evidence with equal tenacity. The legal spectacle that is unfolding has provided a breath-taking expose of the South African criminal justice system. This has led some commentators to conclude that the justice system itself is on trial.

The Pistorius case, however, is hardly representative of the criminal justice system in this country, but rather exposes the ugly face of class justice. The trial has revealed a level of quality of the legal process that the criminal justice system is capable of producing, when a defendant with ample financial resources is on trial and the glaring spotlight of the world’s media is focused on court officials.

British honeymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani’s arrival in a privately chartered plane – paid for by the Department of Justice – flanked by medical staff to tend to his unstable mental condition, similarly sends the message that the South African courts respect and uphold human rights, most importantly the right to a fair trial.

To read the full story as it appears in the Daily Maverick, click here
And on the Facts & Opinions website, here

dewani for blog


UK: Prison officers’ failings contributed to vulnerable boy’s death, inquest rules

According to the Guardian, an inquest jury has found multiple failings by staff at a younger offender institution contributed to the death of 17-yesr-old boy, who had been bullied by other inmates.
The teenager, was serving six months for affray and common assault, had complained that he was being picked on and had said he was better off dead, said the charity inquest.

Staff at Hindley youth offender institution in Wigan have been accused of failing to give Jake Hardy proper support before he hanged himself in his cell. He was taken to hospital but dies four days later.
The inquest heard how during the evening in question Jake complained about bullying and CCTV showed detainees kicking his door and shouting through his inspection window. Jake refused to go out because he had not been allowed to phone family, according to the inquest, and Jake had been observed shortly before he was found hanged.
The inquest heard Jake, who had learning difficulties and depression, had previously cut his wrist and complained about verbal abuse.
His mother had also warned he had been thinking about taking his life. Jake left a note for his mother, discovered after his hanging, stating he could not cope with people in prison even staff whom he had asked to “do their job properly”.


Read more here:

Jake Hardy’s death in custody is nothing less than a state-committed crime

Deaths in custody review should look at all prisoners, take it from an ex-con

Suicide in English and Welsh Prisons: 10 years of data mapped

 Suicide Prevention and Recommended Practices





Prison show “Jail Break” comes to the WJP podcast

We’ve been talking up the new prison show “Jail Break” (produced by WJP and Thetha FM) on the blog for a while now and this week we have the first show featured on the podcast.

In the first episode presenters Kabelo Keogatile and Vusi Mthombeni look at access to legal advice while in jail. They interrogate Pepsy Bahlekazi from The Justice Inspectorate and Welcome Lechelele from Legal Aid for how an inmate can research their rights and get help while inside.

WJP has partnered with community radio station Thetha FM in Orange Farm and used their established producers and presenters to develop a show aimed at inmates and their families. The presenters are brought to Joburg where they record in the production studio at Voice of Wits and have lively debates on crucial issues relating to inmates.

From Thetha FM the show reaches five correctional facilities: Groenpunt, Vereeniging, Sasolburg, Heilbron and Krugersdorp. The show is broadcast in a mixture of Zulu, Sotho and English.

Going forward WJP wants to partner with more radio stations and get the show (in some form) accessible to inmates in as many prisons as possible across the country.


Read about the positive response to the show:


Listen to the podcast of “Jail Break” episode one on sound cloud:


Key findings of NICRO’s report: The State of South African Prisons


The National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO) has recently released a research report entitled ‘The State of South African Prisons’.

The report analyses prison trends and statistics from 2008 to 2013 with a focus on prison population, length of sentence, budget allocations as well as access to basic health care and education.

Key findings of the report:

  • The majority of sentenced offenders are serving sentences for aggressive crimes
  • 52% of sentenced offenders are serving sentences of 10 years or less
  • Foreign nationals only make up 4% of the total sentenced prison population
  • 98% of sentenced offenders are male
  • Between 2012 and 2013, 21% of sentenced offenders attended formal education
  • There are 208 offenders per social worker
  • There are 1 565 offenders per psychologist
  • There are 227 offenders per educator
  • Over the past four years, incarceration costs have received an average of 54% of the total budget, with rehabilitation, care and social reintegration receiving 5%, 9% and 4% respectively

Read the full report here

Read NICRO’s statement on the release of the report here

Read ‘Nicro report damns prison system’, an article published in The Star today

WJP Mangaung Prison torture investigation featured in Stop G4S report

G4S blog

Stop G4S, a lobby group that is “opposed to G4S and its various unlawful activities and human rights abuses”, has featured Wits Justice Project senior journalist, Ruth Hopkins’ expose on torture at G4S run Mangaung prison in their recent ‘Briefing for Trade Unionists’. The report which labels G4S as a “serial human rights abuser” details incidences of G4S malpractice occurring around the world.

The report touches on stories such as the death of Jimmy Mubenga in detention, G4S’ controversial involvement in the Gaza Strip detention centres and inhumane living conditions in G4S-run ‘asylum housing’.

In explaining the need for the report, Stop G4S have said: “Trade unionists have every reason to challenge G4S as it tramples over public services and union policies. We oppose privatisation, confront racism, and support effective international solidarity, similar to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions which helped to end the apartheid regime in South Africa.”

Read the Stop G4S report here

Read the original expose – ‘Mangaung prison is a private hell’ – by Ruth Hopkins 

Read the Department of Correctional Service’s response to the article – the expose prompted Minister of Correctional Services, Sibusiso Ndebele, to say that privatisation of prisons in South Africa (currently there are two privately run prisons) has ‘failed’


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