Shackled South African Prisoner Beaten by GEO Guards Wins Lawsuit
In May 2016, private prison firm The GEO Group, which operates the maximum-security Louis Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre in Louis Trichard, South Africa, lost a lawsuit that alleged the company’s guards beat a prisoner while he was restrained in handcuffs and shackles. Prisoner Takalani Neluheni claimed that in February 2011 at least nine guards forced him to undress before he was searched anally, and that a guard struck him and another jumped on his genitals.
He then stated that while still restrained he was dragged down some stairs, hitting his head, and placed in solitary confinement for 42 days. Neluheni argued that he was “not a violent person,” and said he suffered serious injuries to his genitals, was given poisoned tea and did not receive medical care from the prison doctor.
Neluheni was awarded R200,000 (around $14,290) by Judge Nomsa Khumal, who rejected the GEO guards’ assertions that he was a violent person and had assaulted them, though the judge said Neluheni did tend to exaggerate. In the final analysis, Khumal rejected prison officials’ version of the facts, noting that they clearly disliked Neluheni and had fabricated a story in an attempt to cover up the assault.
GEO Group, one of the largest private prison operators in the world, has been sued multiple times in different countries for excessive use of force by its employees, and has been the subject of numerous articles in Prison Legal News.