Mine-Shaft Prisons Slammed: African Bishops Shocked by Plan to Lock Up `Animal' Prisoners in Underground Jail

Article excerpt

ECUMENICAL NEWS INTERNATIONL

East London, South Africa

A proposal to use underground mine shafts as "super maximum security prisons" in South Africa has been slammed by the country's Anglican bishops as callous and offensive.

Khulekani Sitole, Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, told a recent press conference: "There are criminals within our system who have made it clear that they are not prepared to conform to the norms of a democratic society--people like murderers, rapists and armed robbers who repeatedly transgress.

"They are animals and must never see daylight again," he said.

The proposal to use disused mines follows increasing overcrowding in prisons and a high number of prison escapes.

According to figures from last year, most of the country's 236 prisons were overcrowded, with about 60 prisoners squeezed into a cell designed for 18 people.

The Anglican Synod of Bishops released a statement saying that it was "deeply shocked and offended by the callous suggestion. …