The state of our prisons and what this reveals about our society

Solomon Benatar



Twenty years after transition to a constitutional democracy, South Africa faces major challenges in almost very aspect of life, ranging from meeting daily subsistence requirements for all its citizens, through providing access to education and primary healthcare, to the functioning of our legal system and governance from local to national levels. The state of medical care in our prisons, once a high-profile issue, has been eclipsed by these challenges. Yet the state of our prisons remains a barometer for these challenges, and on the anniversary of Steven Biko’s death in prison it is appropriate to be reminded of this legacy and its implications.


Author's affiliations

Solomon Benatar, Bioethics Centre, University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Joint Centre for Bioethics, University of Toronto, Canada

Full Text



Prison health care; Steven Biko; Human rights; Torture; Crime; Correctional Services Report

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2014;104(9):613-614. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.8608

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-06-26
Date published: 2014-07-16

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