Fake letter doing the rounds

Sonke Gender Justice, Cape Town

Sonke Gender Justice wishes to distance itself from a fake letter circulating in Department of Correctional Services centres.

Sonke Gender Justice has recently become aware of a letter that bears Sonke’s logo that is purportedly circulating within Correctional Services centres, calling on incarcerated persons testing positive for Covid-19 to inform their next of kin to assist in taking civil action (i.e. litigation) against the Department of Correctional Services.

The letter also speaks to parole decisions being made by the National Council for Correctional Services.

The letter is framed in unacceptably disparaging terms.

Sonke unreservedly denies authoring the letter, providing permission for the use of our logo, or authorising the circulation of this letter.

We do not condone the content contained in the letter and Sonke would also like to state that we do not know the identity of the author “Adv. Mantombi S. Ntombela”.

While Sonke remains concerned about the health of South Africa’s incarcerated persons, we acknowledge that there are appropriate processes for addressing this – in a way that supports Department of Correctional Services staff and protects the safety of detainees.

We consider letters such as the fake one being circulated, as well as instigatory calls made by organisations such as South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights – whose calls for prison strikes at a time like this have already resulted in the serious injury of two inmates at Baviaanspoort Prison in Pretoria – to be reckless and counter-intuitive.

We call on whoever is behind this fake letter to desist from such a practice which is likely to expose inmates to more vulnerability at this critical time.

Sonke will also be communicating the same message to the Department of Correctional Services, and will continue to offer our support during these trying times.

We can be contacted via email at info@genderjustice.org.za or call us at our Cape Town offices at 021 423 7088.