Prisoner Denied Access to Laptop for Studies Takes Authorities to Court

Mbalenhle Nkosi, an inmate at Johannesburg Medium C Correctional Facility, has taken the top of the prison, the National Commissioner and the Minister of Correctional Services to courtroom.

The jail has denied him get entry to to his computer, which he wishes for distance learning. He has accused the government of “infringing on his proper to similarly schooling” by restricting his observe time to when the pc room is open.

Nkosi, who’s representing himself in court docket, opened a case on the South Gauteng High Court. The case became purported to be heard on 18 June but it changed into postponed to give Nkosi time to have a look at the prison’s court papers.

“The [prison] seeks to unfairly, irrationally, unjustifiably and unconstitutionally restriction my basic proper to education with the aid of proscribing and unreasonably dictating the hours at some stage in which I am permitted to have a look at,” Nkosi stated in court papers. “This, in spite of the truth that I am locked up in a unmarried cellular for prolonged durations with out some thing optimistic to do in all of that time. This goes against the very fabric of rehabilitation, and is contra to me becoming a effective man or woman upon my reintegration into society.”

Nkosi is a registered scholar at Oxbridge Academy – a non-public distance mastering university primarily based in Stellenbosch, Western Cape. He enrolled in a pc research direction in November 2017. He has two months left of his course earlier than his registration expires.

Nkosi commenced serving his 20 yr sentence in March 2011. When he commenced studying in 2017, he changed into permitted to apply his personal pc in his cell because there was no pc room facility at Johannesburg Medium B jail.

About a year later he changed into transferred to Johannesburg Medium C prison where his computer become confiscated upon arrival. He said he had proven the top of training within the prison his registration letter and his proof of lessons fee however “she couldn’t care less”.

He then wrote an software to be allowed a pc in his mobile, mentioning that he was a registered student and his course required get right of entry to to a laptop.

His application changed into denied by means of the jail control who stated Oxbridge Academy confirmed that Nkosi only needed a laptop to kind his assignments which might be performed within the laptop room. They encouraged that a nation computing device inside the pc room be allotted to Nkosi.

In e mail correspondence among Gauteng Regional Commissioner of Correctional Services Thakane Grace Molatedi, and Nkosi’s fiancĂ©, Sandy Sibanyoni, Molatedi stated: “Due to protection challenges of offenders using computers and laptops for other activities besides for look at functions at maximum Correctional Centres, the wrongdoer can not be allowed to have the computer in his cell but could be afforded an possibility to use the laptop room for take a look at functions.”

Nkosi said his studies have already been compromised after eight months of fighting to apply his computer in his mobile. He said he’s going to also incur a monetary cost for no longer completing his path in the stipulated time.

“I was compelled to drop out and linger around like maximum of the inmates with out studying or doing anything to develop myself,” Nkosi informed GroundUp. “You usually listen from the society accessible that inmates are quick to reoffend after being released from jail … Is this type of behaviour by means of jail officers … Not a part of the motive why inmates reoffend because they exit of prison with out schooling or ability?”

Nkosi said he needs to complete this course so that he is technologically savvy whilst he is released. “Technology is continuously advancing so I need to preserve up,” he said. He wants to begin a profession in Information Technology and open his personal net cafĂ©.

“My family paid for my route out in their own pocket so this means lots to me. You ought to remember the fact that I actually have kids on the out of doors so I want to do what it takes to have all the skills I want to aid them once I am launched,” stated Nkosi.

Correctional offerings give an explanation for their function

The Correctional Services department become not able to comment on Nkosi’s case because it’s miles currently before the High Court, however its national spokesperson, Singabakho Zwide, said inmates had been granted access to laptops thru utility or by using the usage of the computer room facility.

He stated the software could ought to substantiate why it changed into important for them to apply it in their cellular or even then, they were not allowed to preserve it overnight and it became monitored very closely.

This become because having laptops in cells was a protection risk, consistent with Zwide. “Inmates can use laptops to create fraudulent files even when they do not have get entry to to the net… They are able to smuggle reminiscence cards and clone sim cards … You’ll be surprised at what occurs in those centers,” he stated.

“We don’t simply take laptops away as a form of punishment or because we experience love it … We take them away when inmates have contravened the guidelines through taking place web sites they may be not allowed to move on like social media … Sometimes we discover pornographic cloth so we should confiscate them,” Zwide advised GroundUp.

When laptops were confiscated, Zwide stated the inmates nonetheless had get entry to to pc rooms. “There is a totally convenient facility referred to as the ‘UNISA hub’ wherein laptops are given to inmates in a pc room. Any registered pupil is allowed to use this facility and there are IT [Information Technology] professionals tracking what inmates are doing on their computer systems and which web sites they’re traveling,” he said.

But Zwide stated he became aware that no longer all prisons had laptop rooms. “So if an inmate desires to sign up for a degree or direction, we encourage them to request for a switch to Kgosi Mampuru II [prison] for instance wherein they’ll have access to computers.”

When asked about the restrict it places on the quantity of observe time for inmates, Zwide said: “We acknowledge that however we also can not forget about the safety dangers that include it … Some sufferers on the outside have been threatened by means of inmates so we have to monitor these items intently,” he stated. “We are even suffering to control contraband along with mobile telephones … If they use laptops of their cells, they may use mobile phones as hotspots to access the internet which poses a extra protection danger.”

He stated a few inmates contravened regulations which pressured the prison to confiscate their laptops. “Then they take us to court saying we’re infringing on their right to schooling,” said Zwide. “We usually inform the courts that our goal isn’t to save you in addition studying, in truth, we encourage inmates to take a look at further because it’s miles a part of our rehabilitation programme.”