SECTION27 is a public interest law centre that seeks to influence, develop and use the law to protect, promote and advance human rights. Our name is drawn from the section in the South African Constitution which enshrines everyone's right to health care, food, water and social security.
The recent deaths of prisoners at Groenpunt and St Alban’s prisons raise serious concerns about the ability of the Department of Correctional Services to guarantee the safety of prisoners. The Groenpunt death is particularly worrying as officials are implicated in the death of the prisoner, after an assault witnessed by members of the press and during a visit by members of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services. The use of excessive force is prohibited by the Correctional Services Act and the Constitution guarantees the right to life and the freedom and security of the person. The state, through the Department of Correctional Services, has an inescapable duty to provide safe and secure custody to all prisoners under conditions consistent with human dignity. This has been confirmed in several South African court decisions.
A case coming before the Constitutional Court holds serious consequences for public health and the fight against TB in South Africa. South Africa has one of the highest incidence rates of TB in the world. TB is the leading cause of death in South Africa and has been for many years. HIV co-infection and the increasing prevalence of drug resistant TB add to the urgency of addressing the TB epidemic. Doing so should be a top priority of the state.
On 8 June 2012, SECTION27 made a submission on the “Discussion Document on the Transformation of the Judicial System and the role of the judiciary in the Developmental South African State”. SECTION27 made this submission because we believe that the voice of organisations working for social justice is crucial to debates over the role of the judiciary, especially considering the role that the judiciary has played in the achievement of important social justice victories. We also made the submission as part of our campaign to popularise and deepen an understanding of the Constitution amongst all people—particularly the least privileged amongst us.
Read the summary and full submission by clicking “read more” below