How many inmates are affected, however, is unclear, as the department of correctional services (DCS) does not differentiate between sexual and other forms of violence in its reports.
The warders spoke about Obed, an awaiting trial inmate who initially complained that Albert, an older inmate, had stolen his clothes.
Prison warders at the Johannesburg “Sun City” jail have not received appropriate training to deal with the pervasive spread of rape and sexual violence in the prison.
This is exacerbated by a dangerously low staff-to-inmate ratio and a dilapidated work environment.
This lack of a policy framework is alarming, given the lengthy court delays that keep inmates in remand detention for years.
A recurring issue they discussed was their inability to appropriately prevent or address sexual violence between inmates.
Rape and sexual violence behind bars is a widespread problem, the warders and researchers say.
“What is it we’re going to say to Obed that will make him feel like he is a man again? The situation in the awaiting trial section of the prison where Obed and Albert were incarcerated is even worse than in the sentenced sections because there are no social workers or psychologists employed there.
Albert admitted that he had been “operating” with Obed, prison speak for sexual relations, or rape, depending on the perspective.
They transferred Albert – a known sexual predator – to a new communal cell, as all the single cells were full.