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The violation of rights of prisoners in South Africa after 1996: medico-legal implications.

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Post-1994 and following the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa on 8 May 1996, the Constitution has since become the supreme law of the country and any conduct or law that is in conflict with its provisions is invalid. The constitution is founded upon particular values, namely, human dignity, equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms. Amongst others, the 1996 Constitution governs the establishment and administration of prisons with the inclusion of the rights of the prisoners. This dissertation discusses how the rights of prisoners are protected including the perceived violations. Due to the high number of violations of prisoner’s rights, this dissertation will also discuss the various court decisions relating to the previously mentioned violations. The purpose of this dissertation is, to do an in-depth analysis on the protection and violation of prisoner’s ‘right of access to healthcare’ as provided in terms of section 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. The dissertation will endeavour to expose the violations, provide an in-depth view of the extent of the violations through case studies. The implementation of the provisions of section 27 will be evaluated to determine if the prisons have been adequately protecting prisoners. In addition to the latter analysis, the prison’s shortfalls will be highlighted with the inclusion of a brief legal position in other countries. The dissertation acknowledges the existence of the prisoners’ rights, although the implementation thereof by prisons remains questionable and a source of controversy in the medico-legal sphere. The dissertation ultimately concludes that the ‘right of prisoners to access healthcare’ should be monitored on a regular basis to ensure those prisoners' rights are not constantly violated. The dissertation further concludes that the continued oversight will reduce the number of court cases and ultimately the State's resources on cases that involve the violation of prisoner's rights and thus uphold the spirit and purpose of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal. Durban.