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Court allows prisoner to use PC in jail cell

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 09 Nov 2023
The Supreme Court of Appeals rules it is against the Constitution to deny prisoners the right to education.
The Supreme Court of Appeals rules it is against the Constitution to deny prisoners the right to education.

A prisoner serving a 20-year sentence has won the right to use his personal computer to further his studies from behind bars.

This, after the Supreme Court of Appeals this week ruled it is against the Constitution to deny prisoners the right to education.

The prisoner, Mbahehle Ntuli, has been imprisoned at the Johannesburg Medium C Correctional Centre since July 2018.

According to the court documents seen by ITWeb, the convict had registered with the Oxbridge Academy to pursue a computer studies course, with a focus on data processing.

However, the request was denied by the prison authorities, saying having such devices within cells posed security challenges.

In his ruling, acting appeal judge David Unterhalter said access to a computer is an essential requirement of the computer studies Ntuli is pursuing.

He also said prohibiting inmates the devices they need to pursue their studies will be tantamount to denying them their right to education as enshrined by the Constitution.

Unterhalter then gave the first and second appellant – the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, and the national commissioner of correctional services – 12 months to revise the policy for correctional centres to permit the use of PCs in cells for study purposes.

Pending the review of the policy, Unterhalter said, Ntuli is entitled to use his PC in his cell, without the use of a modem, for as long as he remains a registered student with a recognised tertiary or further education institution in South Africa.

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