South African prisoners could be allowed laptops in cells

A Pretoria High Court ruling may allow all South African prisoners to have laptops in their cells.

The City Press reported that the possibility follows Boeremag members filling a successful application in the court.

Three Boeremag members, who were handed life sentences in 2013 for treason, argued that the Department of Correctional Services applied its education programme in a discriminatory manner.

This is because the inmates, who are studying through Unisa in Zonderwater prison, said they are not allowed to have computers in their cells.

The court ruled that “the government has a duty to ensure access to higher education for all South Africans”, stated the report.

“By not allowing computers without modems in cells, the department’s education policy discriminates against the applicants. The applicants may use their personal computers without modems in their cells for as long as they are registered students,” stated the court.


The City Press spoke to Professor Ann-Mari Hesselink, with Unisa’s department of criminology, about the ruling, who said prisoners’ rights regarding access to education are not applied consistently.

Prisoner also struggle to gain access to study material and supervision due to limited Internet access, she said.

Access to computers and an Internet connection make it easier for prisoners to “contact syndicates outside the prison and to plan further crimes”, however, stated Hesselink.

The court case shows the Boeremag members can currently access PCs in a study room between 09:00 and 14:00, but have limited Internet access.

Criminal syndicates operating from local prisons made headlines in July 2o17, when it was reported Vodacom agents were working with a crime syndicate operating from a Johannesburg prison to perform SIM-swap and Internet banking fraud.

The Rapport stated a Vodacom investigation on the matter came to light after it was mistakenly sent to one its clients, who was a victim of SIM-swap fraud.

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South African prisoners could be allowed laptops in cells