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 the courtroom.

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

Laptop for Studies

Nkosi, who represents himself in the court docket, opened a case at the South Gauteng High Court. The case was purported to be heard on 18 June, but it changed into postponed to give Nkosi time to 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, despite the truth that I am locked up in an unmarried cellular for prolonged durations without something optimistic about doing in all of that time. This goes against the fabric of rehabilitation and is contra to me becoming an 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 began studying in 2017, he was permitted to apply his 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 was confiscated upon arrival. He said he had proven top of training within the prison with his registration letter and proof of lessons fee; however, “she couldn’t care less.”

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

His application changed into denied utilizing the jail control, which 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 national computing device inside the pc room is allotted to Nkosi.

In email correspondence between Gauteng Regional Commissioner of Correctional Services Thakane Grace Molatedi and Nkosi’s fiancé, 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 a possibility to use the laptop room for taking a look at functions.”

Nkosi said his studies had already been compromised after eight months of fighting to apply for his mobile computer. He said he would 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 without studying or doing anything to develop myself,” Nkosi informed GroundUp. “You usually hear from society accessible that inmates are quick to re-offend after being released from jail … Is this type of behavior using jail officers … Not a part of the motive why inmates re-offend because they exit prison without schooling or ability?”

Nkosi said he must complete this course to be technologically savvy while 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 net café.

“My family paid for my route out of their pocket, which means a lot to me. You ought to remember that I have kids 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 explain their function.

The Correctional Services department cannot 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 using the computer room facility.

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

This becomes 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 to get entry to the net… They can 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 had to enter pc rooms. “There is a convenient facility called the ‘UNISA hub’ wherein laptops are given to inmates in a pc room. Any registered pupil is allowed to use this facility. IT [Information Technology] professionals are tracking what inmates are doing on their computer systems and which websites they’re traveling to,” 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 a switch to Kgosi Mampuru II [prison], for instance, wherein they’ll have access to computers.”

When asked about the restriction it places on the quantity of observing 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 using 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 an extra protection danger.”

He stated a few inmates contravened regulations that 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 to studying. In truth, we encourage inmates to look it further because it’s miles a part of our rehabilitation program.”