South Africa: Cruel and Usual Punishment

Cruel and Usual Punishment

Scenes of South African policemen lashing black demonstrators with leather whips called sjamboks have become all too familiar. Last week a young government doctor turned the spotlight on another pervasive form of police violence: the beating and torturing of detained prisoners. Dr. Wendy Orr, 25, who noted that inmates she treated in two Port Elizabeth prisons were often physically abused, sought a restraining order against the police. Said she: "Detainees are being taken out of my care . . . and during the course of interrogation are brutally assaulted." In an official acknowledgment of such violence in South African jails, the...

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