South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (SAPOHR)

South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (SAPOHR)

        The South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights

This is a basic introduction to SAPOHR, and outline of its work and programs, and a plea for assistance.

1. SAPOHR's Mission Statement

To address the legacy of the apartheid criminal justice and prison systems and contribute to a culture of human rights and social justice in a non- racial, non-sexist democratic South Africa.

2. SAPOHR's Objectives

To reform and democratise the "Correctional Services" and "Criminal Justice System" of South Africa.

To address human rights abuses in South African prisons that have been brought about by a system of apartheid, and to promote human and civil rights of suspects, prisoners, ex-prisoners and their next-of-kin.

To act as a voice of suspects, detainees, prisoners, ex-prisoners and their next-of-kin; to bring attention to their plight and to respond to needs for reform, justice, reintegrative training/education and employment.

To identify and target specific needs groups including those most disadvantaged by apartheid; women, youth, the ill, elderly and disabled.

To forge links and working relations with other community based and non- government organisations to coordinate and strengthen our services and reform.

3. Background

As apartheid institutions, prisons in South Africa are in a volatile state. Yet, because this is not a popular issue, there is a frightening silence and lack of action when it comes to reforming these institutions and addressing the needs and concerns of those incarcerated in them.

The South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (SAPOHR) attempts to fill this vacuum. SAPOHR was formed in Modderbee Prison in 1988 by political and "common law" prisoners. A National Office was opened in 1992 by Golden Miles Bhudu, who is now the organisation's Chief Executive Officer.

SAPOHR is a politically and religiously non-aligned organisation concerned with the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist human rights culture in South Africa. Our area of work is reform of the apartheid criminal justice system.

SAPOHR performs many functions including prison watchdog, public voice and representative of prisoners. We provide para-legal, referral and advisory services. We are the voice of the continuing prisoners of apartheid.

Our membership is now above 10,000 individuals, most of whom are prisoners, many of whom are ex-prisoners.

"Few physical structures provide more graphic mouments to the era of apartheid than South Africa's police stations, court houses and prisons... The criminal justice system, already discredited by decades of association with the structures of apartheid, has lost the confidence of most South Africans.

"Massive changes are required in criminal justice in South Africa... The present system of justice remains marred in its apartheid trappings. It is a system which is still largely administered by white South Africans for a clientele which is overwhelmingly non-white."
- Commonwealth Observer Mission to SA
Violence in South Africa Report, May 1993

4. SAPOHR Funding

SAPOHR has received funding from:

1. SA Council of Churches: R4,000 (Dec 1992)
2. Royal Netherlands Embassy, KAP Project: R20,000 (Feb 1993)
3. Liberty Life: R5,000 (Nov 1993)
4. United States AID: R25,000 (January 1994)

Total received : R54,000

5. SAPOHR requirements

Our most desperate nned now is to equip our office and get funding for salaries and vehicles. Our top priorities are computer equipment, furniture, stationary and telecommunications installation. We have been given a fax and a photocopier by the ANC. We need furniture and equipment for 15 staff members (most work on the floor at the moment).We will also have long-term and recurrent expenses.

Most of our work is provided by volunteers, and the load is enormous. Our key people often work through the night. Dozens of letters requesting help arrive every day, from all over the country. Even in the city where we are based - Johannesburg - it is difficult to get access to members in prisons; we rely on public transport and the willingness of prison staff to cooperate.

6. Contacts

For more information, and to indicate your willingness to help with expertise, funding, contacts or information, please contact SAPOHR:

South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights
5th Floor, Khotso House
62 Marshall St
PO Box 61715
Johannesburg 2000
South Africa
Tel: (011) 833-7871/7881/7877
Fax: (011) 833-7887
CEO:    Golden Miles Bhudu
Projects Officer: Marcus Cox
E-mail:         c/-Toby Borgeest
                University of Melbourne

From: "Arthur R. McGee" 
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date:    Fri, 21 Oct 1994 12:07:36 +1000
From:    toby borgeest 
Subject: S.African Prisoners Org for Hum Rghts

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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