Prison gang expert gives testimony

An expert in the mechanics of prison gangs yesterday said he had never heard of inmates being searched in the method alleged by prisoners who have instituted legal action against the Department of Correctional Services for an alleged mass assault.

Major-General Jeremy Veary was yesterday called as an expert witness in the Port Elizabeth High Court by the department to testify in the case of 231 St Albans Prison inmates who have taken the department to court in a multimillion-rand civil suit.

The prisoners claim they were beaten, shocked and sexually assaulted for a week following the murder of prison warder Babini Nqakula in the dining hall on July 15 2005.

They claim they were searched by being told to lie face down, legs apart, forming a human chain. They said members of an emergency support team had instructed them to put their nose in the anus of their fellow inmate.

But Veary told Judge Dayalin Chetty he had never heard of anyone being told to put their nose into another’s anus.

Veary, who was imprisoned at Pollsmoor Prison and Robben Island during the 1980s for terrorism for his membership of Umkhonto we Sizwe, said he spent time among prison gangs while in jail.

Advocate Hilton Epstein SC, acting for the department, said the inmate who stabbed Nqakula claimed that he had done so because Nqakula had told his mother that he was involved in prison gangs and engaging in sodomy.

Veary said the 26 gang strictly prohibited sodomy.

Testimony continues.

-Lee-Anne Butler 

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